The warden and supervisor of an orphanage that houses HIV positive children were arrested by Hyderabad police on Sunday, after a video showed one of the girls working as a manual scavenger at the orphanage. The video went viral on social media sparking outrage.
The video shows the child getting into a manhole and removing sewage with a mug, her face covered with a scarf. At least 5 other girls are seen standing around the manhole wearing polythene gloves and being made to work as manual scavengers.
The orphanage is run by Ambassadors of Goodwill for AIDS Patients Everywhere (AGAPE) located at Gayatrinagar near Boduppal on the outskirts of the city, according to a Hindustan Times report.
Rachakonda commissioner Mahesh Bhagwat told the Hindustan Times that the warden of the orphanage, Yellagiri Prajavathi (45), and supervisor G Elavarasan (36) have been arrested and a case against them has been registered at Uppal police station.
“A case was filed against them under Section 75 of the Juvenile Justice Act and Section 3 read with 14 of the child labour act,” Bhagwat said. The warden also used to make the children do daily chores, Bhagwat told The Times of India.
Employing any person as a manual scavenger is a punishable offence under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act of 2013. The Station House Officer, Uppal PS, Y Narsimha Reddy, however, told YKA that the act has not been invoked in the present case. “If any applicable (law) is there, you send us a message. I will add in the chargesheet. We have no knowledge about this act,” he told YKA.
Balala Hakkula Sangham (Andhra Pradesh Child Rights Association), the child rights organisation that brought the matter to the police’s notice, has also filed a petition with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) demanding action against AGAPE.
“This is nothing but the blatant violation of child rights. It is all the more a big crime because the Supreme Court has banned manual scavenging in the country. We shall not rest till the orphanage is closed and the children are shifted to state-run home at Yousufguda,” P Achuyta Rao, president of the association told Hindustan Times.
The Child Welfare Committee of Ranga Reddy district has also ordered a probe into the matter.
Video credit: Hindustan Times