COVID cases at shelter home: NHRC sends notices to UP govt, DGP

Source: PTI | Published on 23rd June 2020, 11:52 AM | National News |

New Delhi/Lucknow: The NHRC has sent notices to the Uttar Pradesh government and the state police chief over reports that 57 minor girls tested positive for COVID-19 at a state-run shelter home in Kanpur, officials said on Monday.

Five of them were pregnant and one HIV positive. The Kanpur district administration on Sunday had clarified that the girls were pregnant at the time they came to the shelter home.

The girls were exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 for some time but there was "delay" in taking them to the hospital for tests, the National Human Rights Commission said quoting reports.

"The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of media reports that 57 minor girls tested positive for the novel coronavirus at a state-run children''s shelter home in Kanpur district of Uttar Pradesh," the NHRC said in a statement.

The commission has observed that the contents of the media reports, if true, are “enough to prima facie believe that the public servants have failed to provide safeguard to the victim girls and apparently were negligent in protecting their right to life, liberty and dignity in the custody of the state".

Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the UP chief secretary, seeking a detailed report, including their health status, medical treatment and counselling, it said.

A notice has also been issued to the UP director general of police for a report regarding the registration of an FIR in this matter and the status of investigation. The response is expected within from weeks from both the authorities, the statement said.

The state government is expected to order an inquiry into the matter from an independent agency, the NHRC said.

It said the UP government is also expected to review the health status of the women inmates lodged in shelter homes across the state and issue suitable directives that such incidents do not recur in future.

According to media reports, the girls at the shelter home had been exhibiting coronavirus symptoms for a few days and the local administration had informed the state Health Department about it only last Friday on June 19, the NHRC said.

Reportedly, the Kanpur district magistrate has said that there were seven pregnant girls living in the home and five of them tested positive for COVID-19, it said.

He has said that these girls were already pregnant when they were brought to the shelter home on the recommendation of the child welfare committees in different districts and investigation under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act is going on in all these cases, the statement said.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Kanpur, has reportedly stated that two of the girls had come from Agra and Kannauj in December 2019.

The SSP said all girls found COVID-positive are being treated at the Kanpur Medical College. The shelter home has been sealed, and its staff quarantined, the rights panel said.

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