rights violations in juvenile home
Labourers, Suspected Sexual Abuse, Suppression of Post Mortem Report'
Government Juvenile Home and Government Remand Home, Ram Nagar, Varanasi
have been established for orphans below the age of 16 years and children
below the age of 16 who are engaged in criminal activities. The State
government, for their reform, education, and rehabilitation established
these Homes. The PUCL Varanasi, U.P., was receiving complaints about the
irregularities in administration, inhuman treatment of the children, and
their exploitation. One young boy had died in suspicious circumstances
in December 2000 and some children were reported to have escaped through
obtained permission from the District Magistrate to send an enquiry team
to look into the affairs of the Homes. Permission was granted on January
11, 2001 and the following people were appointed on the Committee: SarvaShri
Gurinder Singh, President Varanasi PUCL; Tanvir Ahmed Siddiqui, advocate;
AK Mukherjee, Retd. Principal Harishchandra College; Abdul Sattar, Advocate;
Ms. Ranjana Gaud; and Susdhanshu Agrawal, Advocate. Shri Sattar could
not participate due to some personnel reasons.
was to look into the following questions.
- Are the
children in the Home getting food, clothes, and medical facilities as
- Are the
children of the Homes being exploited and harassed emotionally and physically?
- What were
the circumstances in which Irfan, an inmate of the Home, died? What
were the steps taken by the administration?
The Superintendent of the Homes, Shri VL Yadav, raised some objections
on the visit of the Committee. Finally the committee was able to visit
the Homes on February 17, 2001. The Committee talked to concerned officials
and workers. It talked to the children at length. It also obtained the
Panchnaamaa and the post mortem report on Irfan who had died on December
15, 2000 in suspicious circumstances.
of the youth Home, Shri VL Yadav, provided information about the number
of children, number of workers, and their responsibilities, and the economic
status of the institution.
The institution houses orphaned children and children with criminal background
together. Initially the children are put up in the Remand Home and their
parents are informed. If the parents don't turn up to take the children
home, they are sent to the youth Home. Children up to the age of 8 years
are housed in the Remand Home and children above this age are sent to
the Juvenile Home. Every child is entitled to 180 grams of rice / flour
and 58 grams Dal. They are served food up to 9.30 in the morning and after
that the daily routine starts.
again served food from 8 to 9.30 pm. According to rules they should be
given lunch at 1.30 pm. The expenses allotted, per child, are Rs. 500/-
per month. Apart from food they are given clothes, chappals, soap for
bathing and washing, oil, etc. The institute has two teachers and they
teach from class 1 to class 8. The children are also given vocational
training. Children below the age of 14 years are not engaged in carpet
weaving. It was not clear if children below this age were allowed in woodwork,
sewing. The Superintendent informed us that no unnatural death had taken
place. Irfan had died before the present Superintendent had taken over.
But he informed that Irfan had fallen ill and was treated by the nurse
compounder. He was taken to Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital and then to Kabir
Chaura where he expired. He was reported to have died of Tetanus. He had
come here on transfer from Kanpur. He could not say if the child had internal
had run away. They could do so because of the negligence of the guard.
We were told that these were children who had been rounded up from various
railway stations. These were engaged there in sweeping, shoe shining,
etc, from which they used to earn money. Here they were deprived of that
and they wanted to go back. We were told that children, who preferred
a peaceful and orderly life, did not run away. Those who do not like discipline
they try to escape. The boundary wall of the juvenile home is 5-foot high,
which can be easily jumped over.
There is a separate budget for books and it is not included in the expenditure
per head (Rs. 500/-). Special grants are provided by the government for
construction, for beddings in the Remand Home, and repair of rooms. The
Act does not provide sleeping rooms. For every 10 students there is one
room, reception area, and dining room.
There is no Court and no room for the Superintendent. The Act provides
a Superintendent but the department has created a post of Assistant Superintendent
only. In the Remand Home two children sleep on one wooden bed. The money
for food comes from the Treasury through the district Magistrate. Funds
for other expenses have to be provided for in the annual budget of the
The children get milk only for tea. There is generally a shortage of vegetables
in the Juvenile Home, but not in the Remand Home. There is a post of a
physical training instructor, which is lying vacant after the retirement
of the last incumbent. The children look after the farms of the Home.
The medical officer, Dr. RS Prasad, of the Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital,
pays a weekly visit. He is paid a monthly honorarium of Rs. 300/-. Nurse
and compounder live on the campus. The Superintendent also lives in the
At the time of the escape of the children and the death of Irfan the Superintendent
was Shri Sita Ram Shastri. He was suspended after these events. Whenever
some guardians come to meet their ward they have to make an entry in a
The committee talked to the children also. A child, Lovkush, told the
committee that he was a resident of Allahabad and his mother's name was
Lalmani Devi. At the time of the evidence he was engaged in grinding spices.
He was sent here from Lucknow. Before that he was at Calcutta. The Calcutta
police had rounded him up. He told us that Vasudev Bhai teaches them how
to cook roties. The children start cooking roties at 6 in the morning.
Every child gets 2 pairs of shirts and knickers, and one vest. During
the winters they were given a full sweater and a blanket. He wanted to
return to his home. He was told by the administration not to talk to anyone.
If any inmate commits a mistake, he is beaten. Vasudev Bhai twists the
ear, and tells them to sit on the haunches, pass the arms through the
legs, and touch the ears. (Murgaa Banaanaa). They were served snacks at
8 in the morning and food at 10.30. Snacks include tea and two pieces
of bread. He told us that he goes to the class and if he bunks one Bhaisaab
gives a beating. He has come here after Irfan's death and did not know
anything either about that or about the escape of the children.
He also told us that they cut the crops in the farms, weeded out the grass
and sow seeds. Eat food at 6 in the evening and go to sleep between 8
and 9. Some children watch TV also. He also told us that Santosh goes
to the house of 'Baraa saahab' to work there. Santosh is speech disadvantaged.
He looks after the cow. He is an old inmate. The children also pull the
rickshaw of the home. The rickshaw is also used to take sick children
to the hospital.
Another child to whom the committee spoke was Safiqul Aslam, S/o Safihul
Haq, resident of village Aathi of Golpada. He was here for 3 years. He
was picked up at Allahabad.
Safiq is learning to weave rugs and sew. He also cooks. He is a student
of class one. He also works in the fields. He said that every day 10-12
children cook food. He also expressed the desire to go back home.
Twelve-year-old Papraja is from A.P. He was picked up from Shahjahanpur
in U.P. and was living here for the past two years. He said he was engaged
in weaving rugs. He also attends classes but he was told that he would
be taught when he has learnt to work on the rugs. He said that if anyone
committed a mistake or damaged something he was beaten with a stick. 23
children sleep in his room. He said that smaller children occupied separate
rooms. Formerly, 'Baraa sahab' used to take him to work at his house.
Now only Santosh goes there to work. He said that he knew Irfan but was
not aware why he was taken to the hospital. Papraja said that he had fever
at that time and he had not seen Irfan's dead body. The children who had
run away had escaped from the latrine. They were 7 in number.
Another boy, about 8 years old, Ganesh from Mumbai, told us that he was
picked up at the Varanasi railway station. He told us that his father
was in the railways and worked at Mumbai station. He had told these facts
to everyone but he was not sent back. His father's name is Sambha but
he did not know the full address. His father was engaged in breaking stones.
He said that once a truckload of clothes had come but these were not distributed.
He said that Irfan was from room No.3 and the doctor said that he had
developed Tetanus. He started having pain at 3 in the morning. The doctor
had asked all of us whether he was beaten. He had injury on his neck but
we did not know the reason. We were afraid because Bhai Saab had told
us that if anyone revealed that he had beaten him on his neck, then he
would beat us all. Actually Bhai Saab had beaten him. After the incident
Bhai Saab was transferred. He said that the children are not released
from here. When they complete their term, it is extended. But they are
never released. He worked on rugs, in carpentry class, and in the fields.
He said he was given chappals, shirt, pants, and vest 3 years ago. He
also received one sweater.
The committee talked to 8 other children of the Juvenile Home. After this
the committee visited the Remand Home. Ravi of village Majhbara of district
Mau is 15 years of age. He told the committee that he used to sell Gutkha
in the trains. He had come there about a week ago. His father was a farmer.
He wanted to go back home. Another boy, Yogesh, was from village Sultanpur,
district, Gazipur in U.P. He said that his father's name is Sheebu. He
had come to Varanasi with his father to buy medicines. They got separated
in the train. He said that he was a student when he had come here. Siyaram
of the Remand Home caught him at the station. He had given him the information
about his family. His uncle, Deep Nayan, lived in Varanasi. He had not
yet been produced before the magistrate.
The Committee noticed that the statements of the Superintendent, the workers,
and the inmates of the Juvenile Home and the Remand Home were generally
on the same lines. The children, more or less, had said identical things
about food, clothes, administration, etc. It appeared that they were briefed
in advance as to what they were expected to say. Still some alarming facts
emerged. For example the Superintendent himself had said that the children
were given 180 grams of rice / flour, and 58 grams of Dal and this was
according to the standard prescribed. For snacks 58 grams were provided
for two times. Clearly this was insufficient for children of 14 or 15
years. Children of 10 to 12 years of age or less had to get up at 6 in
the morning, even in winter, and cook. Children were found grinding spices.
Children and others had said that the inmates had to do everything in
the fields. Santosh, who was speech disadvantaged, was used at the residence
of the officials regularly. This was as if he was a bonded labourer. He
had to prepare cow feed, clean cow dung, and fetch water for the family.
His evidence could not be taken because he could not speak. Every child
of the home had said these things about him.
The Committee had visited the home in the winter month of February but
the members did not see any child wearing woolens, every one wore a shirt
or a t-shirt. All of them were bare foot. This was also revealed from
their statements that when they had come to the home they were given shirt,
pant, vest, and chappals. After that no one got anything else.
Even after repeated attempts the medical officer of the Remand Home could
not be made available. The inmates of the Juvenile Home had told the committee
that for medical problems the compounder or nurse on duty prescribed medicines.
The committee could not confirm whether the doctor paid regular visits.
According to the Superintendent, the government gives Rs. 500/- per month
per child but looking at the food and clothes given to them every day
it was clear that they were supplied neither sufficient food nor clothing.
The post mortem report of the child of the Juvenile Home who had died
on December 15, 2000 clearly said that he was of "poor built, poor
nourished". This points to possibility that much less than Rs. 500/-
per child per month was being spent and the inmates were compelled to
live in inhuman conditions and were not fed properly.
30-35 students per rooms slept on wooden beds. Two children on one bed
with one blanket were observed, there was only a durree on the wooden
bed. It would not be wrong to say that they were half-naked and like underfed
cattle. Latrines were overflowing and there were no arrangements for their
cleaning. After the escape of some boys from the ventilator of the latrine,
one latrine was closed down. Now only one latrine was available. About
150 children used this and there were no proper arrangements for water.
Nothing could be more inhuman.
In the field of education it was found that mostly children of 10-12 years
of age were found in the rug-weaving centre. They may be weavers or learners
but this was clearly in contravention of child labour laws. It is known
that for such conditions and actions the government prosecuted the private
manufacturers but in these government institutions these helpless children
were being used in the same manner. The administration and the labour
department were turning a blind eye to this.
It was also not clear whether the students attended the classes regularly
and completed their assignments; also, whether they were supplied with
books, exercise books, etc. For 150 children for classes 1-8, there were
only 2 teachers.
As far as the question of death of Irfan, an inmate of the Juvenile Home,
is concerned it is a serious and mysterious incident. It was in no way
an accidental or natural death. The Superintendent had said that he had
died of Tetanus. The PUCL team, with great difficulty, could get the Panchnaamaa
and the Post mortem report. The facts revealed by these are alarming and
lay bare the story of oppression in the Government Juvenile Home. Besides
"poor built, poor nourished", there was a 13 centimeter long
coagulated blood and spine and spinal cord were broken.
The report had said that a serious injury in the spine and spinal cord
was the cause of the death. We were told by the administration that the
only witness was Ganesh who told us that the injury on Irfan's neck was
due to the beating received from Bhai Saahab. Bhai Saahab was very hefty.
Now he has been transferred. Here the role of the medical officer also
comes under suspicion. After the report of the injury, what medical aid
was given? Because of lack of proper medical facility at Ram Nagar medical
hospital he was taken to Kabir Chaura Hospital. Here he was not under
the treatment of some specialists.
Why was he
not sent from the Ram Nagar Hospital to the nearby hospital of the BHU
where the specialists could treat him? To answer these questions the medical
officer of the Ram Nagar Hospital, who is attached to the Juvenile Home
did not meet the Committee. There is another serious point. The Panchnaamaa
report and the report of the district magistrate is dated December 15,
2000. The Panchnaamaa was prepared at 5 pm on December 15 at the Kabir
Chaura hospital by the Deputy Collector, Varanasi, Shri Maurya. According
the Panchnaamaa in the column of injuries Shri Maurya has noted that the
dead body was observed closely from the front and the back.
There was no apparent injury. This report of the Deputy Collector is totally
at variance with the post mortem report, which speaks of spinal cord injury
and an injury of 13x5 centimeter on the right side of the neck. The magistrate
appears to have shown no interest in the reasons of the death of the child
and could not see the 13 centimeters long injury.
Another point is that his anus was found to be unnaturally dilated where
two fingers could enter easily. This is a serious and important fact.
How the opening of the anus of this child became dilated? The possibility
of unnatural sexual exploitation of the child cannot be ruled out.
When the members of the Committee met the children, the kids in the Remand
Home grabbed the hands of the members and entreated abjectly crying out,
"uncle, uncle, send us to our home. Inform our family members or
phone them". Some boys gave us the phone numbers and addresses. When
we confronted the Superintendent with these facts and asked him as to
why their families were not contacted to hand over the children, we were
told not to be taken in by the children, they were expert liars, and this
was all a drama.
In conclusion and after a serious analysis of the visit, the following
facts stand out to indicate that the children in the government Juvenile
home and Remand Home at Ram Nagar are living in lamentable conditions.
under-fed and thus are suffering from malnutrition. The officials used
the children as domestic servants; the pathetic case of speech disadvantaged,
Santosh, haunts the Committee. The children are made to work on the farm,
for weaving carpets, for pulling rickshaw, for cooking, for grinding spices,
etc. All these are against law. The children were found, in winter month
of February, in only a shirt or a t-shirt and bare foot. The death of
one Irfan and the escape of 7 children after breaking a ventilator in
the latrine show that their suffering had crossed the limits. Even after
a lapse of two months, the children had not been produced in the Juvenile
Court, nor were their families informed.
The PUCL investigation team considers that this is a serious case of oppression
and deprivation of human rights of the children. It considers it to be
a fit case to be taken up immediately by the National Human Rights Commission.
There should be a high level enquiry into inhuman treatment
and of outrages committed on the children. Those found guilty should
be severely punished.
Juvenile Act needs to be brought upto date.
The National Human Rights Commission should look into the circumstances
in which Irfan had died and those responsible for his maltreatment and
for negligence in proper medical aid should be punished. Action should
also be taken for suppressing the true facts indicated in the post mortem
family addresses of the children in the Juvenile Home and Remand Home
should be checked and their families should be informed. This should
be done under the supervision for either the Juvenile Court or the District
- It should
be made a rule that the children who are brought to the Remand Home
must be produced before the Juvenile Court.
The PUCL is thankful to the district administration of Varanasi and
to other social service organisations that extended their co-operation
in this enquiry.
Singh, Advocate, Convenor, district Convenor, PUCL Varanasi; Tanvir Ahmed
Siddiqui, Advocate member; A.K Mukherjee, member; Ms. Ranjana Gaud, member;
Susdhanshu Agarwal, Advocate, member