MADURAI: Observing that 89 children staying in an unregistered orphanage run by a German pastor and his wife in Tiruchy were suffering from a condition similar to Stockholm Syndrome, Justice V Ramasubramanian of the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Monday directed the district collector to immediately constitute a committee to rehabilitate the inmates.
“The children are virtually suffering from a syndrome, something similar to Stockholm Syndrome that makes them believe very strongly that Pastor Gideon Jacob is their only saviour,” said the judge, passing orders on a writ petition filed by A Narayanan, director of NGO Change India.
The petition said the children were victims of trafficking, illegally held at the Mose Ministries orphanage.
Taking the opinion of the I Additional District Judge Deepthi Arivumuthi, who had inspected the home for two days on the High Court’s direction, the Division Bench comprising Justice Ramasubramanian and Justice N Kirubakaran said any attempt to shift the inmates to other institutions would lead to violent reaction from the children or untoward incidents because they were brainwashed to believe that only their pastor could save them. The same may be beneficial to the founder of the institution, said the judges.
“Therefore, we are of the considered view that the removal of Pastor Gideon Jacob and his coterie from the management and administration of the institution, rather than the removal of the inmates, would be the better option for the present, so that the inmates are subjected to a kind of de-briefing, enabling them to slowly come out of the web of illusory world weaved around them,” said the Bench.
The judges said that henceforth the committee comprising the Tiruchy Collector as chairperson, CWC chairman, district child protection officer, district social welfare officials and two members of the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW), Tamil Nadu, would take over the management and administration of the home. And the social welfare officer shall take over as the caretaker of the home immediately, said the judges.
While the Bench asked the ICCW to send its volunteers for a period of two weeks to interact with the inmates and help the children to get over any obsession that they have about the outside world, it also told the collector to nominate a qualified person to render counselling to the inmates on a day to day basis to enable them to get assimilated into their families and eventually into the society.
The committee is requested to take steps to ensure that the children pursue regular education from the stage where they discontinued it. The judges also asked them to take immediate steps to make enquiries at Usilampatti in Madurai district and other areas from where these inmates reached the institution when they were infants. The assistance of the superintendent of police would be sought in this regard.
The Bench also asked the Tiruchy Police Commissioner to assist the committee for ensuring the safety and security of the inmates.
The court asked the committee to file the status of implementation of the order on December 11.