Children abused, branded with hot tongs at Indore 'orphanage', FIR against five women

Minor girls allege horrifying ways of punishment, including branding with hot tongs, hanging them upside down and forced to inhale smoke from burning red chillies

Not actual image (photo: National Herald archives)
Not actual image (photo: National Herald archives)


Minor girls at an Indore 'orphanage' narrated tales of abuse and alleged horrifying ways of punishment, including branding with hot tongs, hanging them upside down and forced to inhale smoke from burning red chillies, prompting the local administration to seal the facility and the police to file an FIR against five women.

As the shocking tales, recounted by the inmates before a Child Welfare Committee (CWC), surfaced an FIR (first information report) was registered against five women associated with the facility for allegedly ill-treating children in the name of punishment, a police official said on Friday, 19 January. The facility, described by officials as an "orphanage", was sealed by the local administration.

However, the NGO running the children's facility said it was a hostel and not an orphanage, and filed a habeas corpus petition in Madhya Pradesh High Court challenging the administration's action of keeping the children, who were moved out of the shelter, allegedly under illegal detention. A habeas corpus plea is filed before a court to ascertain whether a person has been detained legally.

The NGO also denied all allegations mentioned in the FIR filed on the basis of a complaint by the local CWC.

The administration sealed the facility, called Vatsalyapuram, located in the Vijayanagar area on 12 January for illegal operation and shifted the inmates, girls aged between four and 14 years, to the state-run Child Protection Home and another institution, the official said.

The girl inmates told the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) that they were tortured in the name of punishment in the premises, he said. In the FIR lodged on the night of 17 January, it was mentioned that a four-year-old girl was beaten up for wearing dirty clothes, locked in the bathroom for several hours, and not given food for two days.

It was also alleged in the FIR that children were hung upside down and forced to inhale smoke from red chillies kept on a hot pan below. Two children were branded with hot tongs at the hands of a minor girl and one girl was taken to a furnace after being stripped in front of other kids and warned of being burnt, the official said, citing the document.

On the other hand, the NGO running the facility, Vatsalyapuram Jain Welfare Society, has filed a habeas corpus petition before the Indore bench of the high court. Vibhor Khandelwal, a counsel for the NGO told PTI, "Vatsalayapuram is not an orphanage but a standalone hostel where children from economically weaker families are taken care of for an annual fee of just Rs 5."

Khandelwal claimed the administration had "unauthorizedly" sealed Vatsalyapuram and norms and due process of law were not followed while shifting the inmates to another institution.

He said the habeas corpus petition has sought that the children be handed over to the hostel administration or their parents. Khandelwal also rejected the allegations mentioned in the FIR.

"Five women associated with the orphanage have been named in the FIR registered under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act," Vijay Nagar police station sub-inspector Kirti Tomar said.

Investigation into these allegations was still at an early stage, she said.
"The children who were rescued from the orphanage are natives of Rajasthan and Gujarat," Indore-based CWC chairperson Pallavi Porwal said.

"We have written to the Child Welfare Committees of these states asking them to ascertain the socio-economic background of these children and submit a report to us so that they can be rehabilitated," said Porwal.

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