Pastor beats up, makes children's home inmates beg on Hyderabad streets, arrested
HYDERABAD: Better education was all that was promised to gullible parents when their children were provided a shelter in the city. Even in their nightmares would they have imagined their wards would be forced to extend their arms for alms at traffic junctions.
It was six years ago that Sharada, a single parent daily wage worker from Jagadgirigutta entrusted her two sons to pastor James. But on Thursday Gachibowli police picked up four children including hers, for begging with a donation box before Tata Consultancy Service (TCS) office and IIIT junction in IT Corridor. Further investigation took police to the doorsteps of Bhrama Puthra Social Service Society, a private childrens home run by Pastor James.
It did not end there. Officials of Child Welfare Committee(CWC) and Gachibowli Police were baffled to find out a total of 19 children(including five girls) in despair at the home. Pastor James was taken into custody and the children aging between six and 14 years were immediately rescued and transferred them temporarily to Mahima Ministries orphanage home for a night. The children were moved to the Rengareddy district welfare homes on Friday.
"He(Pastor James) sent us out for begging on Independence day and the days after that. He said we needed the money to pay the fees for those of us who study at private schools," said Sharada's son. His brother(name withheld) said that James used to beat them. "Never tell anyone that we had parents, he would threaten us by saying he will throw us out," he recalled.
"I am sorry for doing this to you two, all I wanted for you both was an education far away from what I am going through," said Sharada, as she wept holding close both her sons on Friday. She was informed by the Gachibowli police earlier that day after her sons provided the police with her contact details.
Sharada said she got in touch with pastor James though her brother in law."I had no idea it was an orphanage, he said to us this was a
hostel. He gave us written assurance on paper that they will provide my children with good school and facilities, they didn't take any money from us either," said Sharada, "They took the papers back from us Pastor James has those papers," she added.
"I was at the orphanage for just 23 days but on independence day he told me beg with the donation box," said one of the rescued girl who was forced to beg. The girl is the niece of Sharada and was sent to the orphanage upon insistance by pastor James.
CWC to decide future of children:
Only three parents have come forward since the rescue of the children. Officials are still trying to ascertain the identity of the children and get in touch with their parents.
"We found the children living in dirty surroundings, three of the children have very high fever and there were just too many mosquitoes in there, the place was unfit for children to live," said K Aruna Kumar, legal officer with Women and child Welfare Department. Only two of the 19 children were actually orphans, rest of the children had either both parents or a single parent, said Aruna adding "We will be keeping the best interests of the children in mind before taking a decision, we have to look at if the parents can afford to take of these children"
Pastor james has been booked under the juvenile justice act and the prevention of begging act. "If you cant afford to run an orphanage you must let the authorities involve and shut the place instead of making children to beg," said J Ramesh Kumar, Inspector of Police, Gachibowli police station.
SCPCR issues notices to collector:
On asking how an unregistered home was allowed to operate in the city, Achyuta Rao, member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) said: "There are allegations against Mahima homes that they are involving children in the construction work of their hostel.
In Hyderabad there are a number of homes which has become a commercial activity and many homes do not even have the Fit institution
certificate to run a home." The SCPCR has issued a notice to the Medak district collector and magistrate seeking an enquiry and action on both the orphanage and the officials who allowed the orphanage to run without a Fit institution certificate.
Appeal to check all children homes:
"Bhrama Putra was an unregistered home, running one is also a crime," said M S Chandra, childline director whose team along with the police raided the unregistered orphanage."We have to see the economic status of the children before we rehabilitate them. The decision will be on a case to case basis. We will approach the collector to form a district level committee to check all the children homes and we appeal to the community if they suspect such cases of child abuse to call 1098" he added.