A 10-year-old child with disability from Arunachal Pradesh was severely beaten on April 18, 2017, at a private home for children, by its staff members. The home is located at Sonapur, on the outskirts of Guwahati. The incident came to light when the child was admitted to a private hospital in Guwahati with black and blue marks on his body.
After receiving a complaint from media persons and activists, the deputy commissioner of Kamrup Metro, M Angamuthu, ordered an enquiry against the Society for Health and Education Development (SHED), an NGO which runs this home. The circle officer of Sonapur Revenue Circle, Dhrubajyoti Hazarika, visited the home the very next day, and looked into all the documents of the NGO.
After the enquiry, the circle officer lodged a suo moto complaint at the Sonapur Police Station, vide. SPR/LNO1/2000/250 dated April 19, 2017. Based on the FIR, the police detained the manager (Hiranya Saikia), warden (Santi Niketan Singh) and the cook (Kishan Kumar) for interrogation.
While speaking to The Indian Express, Angamuthu said, “The child was brought to the hospital late Tuesday evening by his mother. On receipt of information, the circle officer of Sonapur circle and officer-in-charge of the local police station on Wednesday morning and picked up three persons for allegedly assaulting the differently-abled child.”
“We are probing into the incident and taking stern action against the NGO that runs the children home,” added Angamuthu.
The child was admitted to the home by his mother on April 18, 2017, at around noon. However, after a few hours on the same day at around 7 pm, she received a call asking her to take back her son as he was beyond control.
After receiving the call, she immediately rushed to the children’s home to take back her son. There, she found that he had black and blue marks on his body. She then admitted him to a private hospital. After her child received first aid, she left for Itanagar at midnight on the same day.
Meanwhile, on April 24, 2017, child rights activist and founder of UTSAH, an NGO, Miguel Das Queah, lodged an additional FIR at Sonapur police station after talking with the child’s parents. The FIR was lodged against the following persons:
1. Lanu A Aimol, who runs the NGO incognito, despite being a staff at the Composite Regional Centre for Persons with Disabilities (CRCPD) under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
2. Hiranya Saikia, Manager, SHED Children Home
3. Lt Col. (Rtd) Bhim Anal, President, SHED NGO
4. NG W Moyon, Secretary, SHED NGO
5. Kishaan Maan
6. Dipanita Medhi
The persons were booked under IPC sections 323, 325, 326, 506, the Juvenile Justice Act (Chapter IX, clauses 75, 82, 85), and the Person With Disabilities Act (Chapter XVI, clause 92) for physically assaulting the child.
Officials from the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) visited SHED Children Home, based on the complaint. They wrote a letter to the deputy commissioner, Kamrup Metro, calling for further action.
After this incident, Kamrup Metro District Administration said that all private hostels, orphanages and child care homes will operate under the district administration. The district administration will constitute an inspection committee comprising of officials from the administration, police, social welfare department and Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) to inspect and submit reports on the conditions of all existing homes and orphanages.
“We want a thorough probe into the incident as well as the credentials of the organisation that has been running the children home,” said Das, while addressing media persons. “I lodged an additional FIR because the culprits are not in custody any longer and at least police could initiate an arrest,” added Das.
However, Das also wrote a memorandum to the chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, regarding the incident and urged him to pass the Assam Corporal Punishment in Educational Institutions (Prohibition) Bill, 2010.
Watch this video made by UTSAH regarding the Assam Corporal Punishment in Educational Institutions (Prohibition) Bill, 2010: