Recent news reports have revealed horrifying accounts of rape of minor girls at a state-run shelter home in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports and issued notice to the Government of Uttar Pradesh in the matter.
State officials negligence
Reportedly, the girls had been exhibiting symptoms of COVID 19 for some time but there was a delay in taking them to the hospital for tests. The local administration informed the State Health Department only last Friday, 19th June. About 57 girls have tested positive for COVID-19, while 5 of them are pregnant and one has been diagnosed as HIV positive.
According to the commission, if the media reports are true, then public servants have failed to protect and safeguard minor girls. They were negligent in their duty to protect the young girls Right to life, liberty, and dignity while being in the custody of the State.
Reportedly, the Kanpur District Magistrate has said that seven pregnant girls have been living at the shelter home, and only five of them have tested positive for Covid-19. According to him, the girls were already pregnant when they were admitted to the shelter home on the recommendation of the Child Welfare Committees. Their cases are under investigation under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
The Senior Superintendent of Police, Kanpur has reportedly stated that two of the girls had come from Agra and Kannauj in December 2019. He added that all the COVID positive girls are under treatment at the Kanpur Medical College. The shelter home has been sealed, and its staff has been quarantined.
Demand for concrete actions
NHRC has asked the Chief Secretary of Government of Uttar Pradesh to submit a detailed report in the matter. It has asked to know about the steps being taken for all the girls health status, their medical treatment and counseling provided to the girls by the authorities.
It expects the State Government to order an inquiry by an independent agency. Further, NHRC desired for the Government to undertake a review exercise on the health status of other girls lodged in shelter homes across the State. All steps and directives must be issues to ensure that such incidents do not recur in the future.
The commission issued a notice to the Director General of Police (DGP) Uttar Pradesh to submit a report regarding the registration of FIR and the status of investigation in this matter.
All authorities have to submit their responses within 4 weeks.