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Case filed against Ujjawala Home for torturing inmates


GUWAHATI, June 16 - Once again, questioning the efficiency of the State in dealing with its destitutes, allegations of a very serious nature have surfaced against a government-funded, NGO-run Ujjawala Home in the State, a case against which has been registered at the intervention of State Social Welfare Department.

The incident came to light after three of the inmates fled from the Ujjawala Home, Morigaon, narrating horrible tales of physical and mental torture involving barbaric treatment like the home management tying the inmates to beds with steel chains and branding their skins by using hot knives, to prevent them from escaping.

Asking the Morigaon Sadar Police Station to inquire into the allegations of barbaric treatment meted out to the inmates, an FIR has been filed at the intervention of Kausar J Hilaly, Nodal Officer, State Resource for Women, Assam and State Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.

Ujjawala Homes, set under a comprehensive scheme for prevention of trafficking and rescue, rehabilitation and re-integration of victims of trafficking, are mainly funded by the Central government's Ministry of Women and Child Development that has laid a comprehensive mechanism for funding criteria and management of such homes. Unfortunately however, at ground level, the mechanism to affix accountability of such homes is often questioned when such incidents come to light.

Swapnaneel Deka, Superintendent of Police told The Assam Tribune that the FIR has been registered on the basis of the letter from the Social Welfare Department.

District Social Welfare Officer (DSWO), Morigaon Debojit Borah, who carried out a ground level enquiry into the matter after the allegations, told this reporter that the warden admitted tying one of the inmates with chain to prevent her from escaping.

�Though the secretary of the NGO who runs the home could not be contacted despite our several attempts, the Social Welfare Department and local Circle Officer have contacted the inmates who fled from the homes and have taken their statement. A detailed report would soon be prepared and sent to the government,� he added.

As per the scheme guidelines, the continuation of grants to the agencies running the homes is based on satisfactory performance reported by the State government. The guidelines also speak of periodic evaluation by reputed block and district level institutions.

The guidelines also speak of a monitoring committee for the scheme to be chaired by secretary in charge of Social Welfare Department.

�On ground level, however, the proper monitoring of several Centrally-sponsored schemes is missing with no clarity of operation and no specific fixing of accountability,� sources closely associated with one such scheme stated pleading anonymity.

�Incidents like this must act as trigger for the department concerned and society at large to make a foolproof monitoring mechanism for such homes meant for children, destitute women and mentally challenged,� the sources added.

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