Maharashtra: Minors endure torture and forced conversion in Pune orphanage, NCPCR calls for action

In a dreadful case of conversion coming to the fore from the state of Maharashtra, two minor girls from the Pune district were tortured and forcefully converted to Christianity. The girls who recently lost their mother were initially forcefully sent to an orphanage in the Daund region where they were mistreated and forcefully converted.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) took cognisance of the event and demanded strict action in the case. In a notice issued on 24th November, the NCPCR stated that the two minor girls were made to read the bible. It also said that the two girls at the orphanage were harassed and made to clean toilets with acid and do chores that are not meant to be done by minors.

The Commission also observed that there is contravention of Article 25 of the Indian Constitution in this case and provisions under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 have also been violated.

The NCPCR issued a notice based on the initial complaint filed by the Indian Human Rights Council (IHRC), one Pune-based NGO. OpIndia talked to one of the IHRC members to learn that the two minor girls from the Shivajinagar area of Pune had recently lost their mother during the COVID-19 spread after which they were forced to go to the orphanage.

The father of the girls is a drunkard and hardly cares about the children after his wife’s death. A local social worker was following up with the family at that time, as per the IHRC member. The social worker saw the dreadful condition of the two minor girls and suggested their relatives send the girls to a Pune local hostel for better education.

Accordingly, the aunts of the girls admitted them to the Ramabai Mission orphanage, Daund. The aunts were promised that this would be a temporary arrangement and that the girls would be released once a local Pune-based hostel approved their admission for a better education. But that never happened. The girls instead were detained and confined by the Ramabai Mission orphanage for around two years. The girls at the orphanage were harassed and made to clean the toilets.

“The aunts of the girls went to the orphanage several times to get them back but they were not entertained, were given vague answers, threatened, and driven out. Aunts were occasionally allowed to meet them only for 5 minutes, after pressuring the orphanage management to return the girls,” the IHRC member informed.

As per the complaint filed to NCPCR, the orphanage deceptively kept the girls and made the aunts believe that their education and marriage would be taken care of. However, during the two years of forced confinement, the girls suffered the most inhuman physical and mental torture.

“They were beaten every now and then. Their clothes were torn and they never were allowed good clothes. They were forced to clean public toilets and were deprived of any basic personal hygiene. They developed Fungal infections on their hand because of this. They were never given any soap or toothpaste. They were forced to take shower in the open shower in front of others rather than a private shower,” the complaint read.

The religious beliefs of the girls were also targeted. The authorities at the orphanage, as per the complaint, broke the Lord Krishna idol that the girls carried while they were admitted to the orphanage temporarily. The girls were also made to read the Bible and were forcefully converted to Christianity.

“Their Baptism was performed by the pastors from a local Church within the Mission premises. They were forced to go to church every Sunday and reciting Christian prayers was mandatory. Any disobey of this order was dealt with the physical beating and keeping them hungry. For the whole day they would not be served any food,” the complaint read.

OpIndia learned that the minor girls were also barred from donning any religious symbols and were forced to believe in Jesus. They were also forced to visit the Church every Sunday. Also, the relatives of the minor girls and Hindu Gods and Goddesses were abused, as per the complaint.

The aunts of the girls made several attempts to recover the girls but to no avail. However, the girls were recovered only after the aunts contacted the local Hindu organization who heard their plea, and verified the incident. The local Hindu organization in association with the Indian Human Rights Council (IHRC) filed a complaint to the NCPCR.

The NCPCR has now demanded strict action against the orphanage for mistreating the girls and forcefully converting them to Christianity.

The Commission also noted that the details of the two minors had not been uploaded on the Commission’s Bal Swaraj Portal- Covid Care given the reason for the death of the minor’s mother was suspicion of COVID-19.

OpIndia has learned that the girls have been recovered by the local Hindu organization and have been safely handed over to their aunts.

FIR in the case has not yet been filed however, the legal formalities in the case are being looked into. Probe underway.

Source : OpIndia

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