India on Monday instructed all its state governments to conduct an immediate inspection of all childcare homes run by the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic order founded by the late Mother Teresa, amid concerns over baby trafficking.
On July 3, authorities shut down a home operated by the order in eastern Jharkhand state that provided shelter for pregnant, unmarried women after a nun and a worker there were arrested for baby trafficking.
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, said in a statement on Monday that she had also instructed states to ensure that all childcare institutions be registered and linked to the federal adoption authority within the next one month.
“Taking cognisance of the recent cases of illegal adoptions carried out by Missionaries of Charity in Jharkhand, Gandhi has instructed the states to get childcare homes operated by Missionaries of Charity all over the country inspected immediately,’’ the ministry said in the statement.
Missionaries of Charity spokesperson Sunita Kumar, could not provide an immediate comment to Reuters.
There has been a number of reports of babies and children being trafficked through charity-run homes and hospitals in India, which campaigners said is driven by a long waiting list for adoption.
The Missionaries of Charity stopped organising adoptions in India in 2015 saying they disagreed with government rules that made it easier for single, divorced, and separated people to adopt children.
The ministry said under the Juvenile Justice Act which came into effect more than two years ago it was mandatory for every shelter home dealing with children and their adoption to register and also link the organisation to the Central Adoption Resource Authority.
However, about 4,000 institutions are yet to be linked, the ministry said.
The chairwoman of Jharkhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Arti Kujur, said the state had formed teams to inspect all its shelter homes and hoped to receive their reports in early August.
“If we find any one operating such homes illegally, strong action will be taken,’’ Kujur told Reuters.
Separately, Kujur said all four infants sold by the nun and the worker arrested this month had been recovered by the authority.
Police said no fewer than six men were beaten to death by mob in eastern India on suspicion that they had kidnapped children, a media report said on Friday .The killings took place in two separate incidents in adjoining districts of Jharkhand State on Thursday.
Angry villagers pelted stones, clashed with police and also torched two police vehicles.
Police officer Prashant Anand said the first incident took place in East Singbhum District, where three men were beaten to death by villagers who accused them of kidnapping children.
“The tribal villagers cornered the men and tempers ran high after they came to know they were outsiders, belonging to another district.
“Suspecting them to be child-lifters, a mob physically assaulted and beat them with sticks until they died.
“In the second related incident that occurred in adjoining Seraikela district, three more men were lynched on similar suspicion,’’ Anand said.
Police, however, denied reports that a number of child abduction cases were reported in the region.
“No such cases have been reported, we are trying to check the spread of rumours which is responsible for the violence.
“ We will identify and arrest those responsible for circulating such rumours,’’ Anand stressed.
Edited by: Abiodun Oluleye/Obike Ukoh