By: ML Verma
Shimla (Apr 5): Himachal Pradesh government has decided to appoint only women watchmen in its all its seven girl-child orphanage in the state after a number of complaints regarding sexual exploitation of inmates at these centres came out.
State Social Welfare Minister Sarvin Chaudhary stated this in the Assembly while responding to a query raised by Tejwant Negi (BJP-Kinnaur) during the Questions Hour today. She said that now only three orphanage were being looked after by male watchmen, who would be replaced by female ‘chokidars’.
She said that four female and 15 male watchmen have been posted in 19 orphanages (include seven for the girl child) to provide safety to inmates in which about 225 girls along with total strength of 780 inmates were living in the state. Out of 19 orphanages, only seven were being funded and looked after by the state Social Justice and Empowerment Department while others were being looked after by various NGOs.
She disclosed that on March 17, 2011, a FIR (59/11 under sec 376), was lodged against an accused Ijaj Ahemad hailed from Nagam district of J& K for alleged sexual exploitation of inmate lodging at Balika Ashram, Kalpa, in Kinnaur district. She said that the orphanage warden has been suspended for negligence in this matter. Similar cases were reported at Prerena Welfare Association (deaf, dumb and mentally retarded institute cum hostel) at Totu in Shimla in 2009 and at Adiwasi Solgarh Girl Hostel at Solan in 2010.
Regarding another query about safety of women in the state, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal stated to a questions raised by Roop Singh (BJP-Sundernagar) that as many as 532 women remained untraced since last three years as 2,456 such incidents had been registered in the state. He further said that seven cases have been registered under Prevention of Immoral Trafficking including one each in 2008 & 2010 and five in 2009.
He said that two Anti-human Traffic Units have been set up in Shimla and Kangra districts while four more likely to be added up in Solan, Sirmaur, Kullu and Chamba respectably as per the scheme formulated by the government of India.