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INDIA: Child trafficking: Pastor arrested for illegal confinement of kids

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Pastor Jacob John was arrested on charges of wrongful confinement, kidnapping and traffickingJaipur: In a stunning expose of child trafficking and indoctrination in the city, the Rajasthan Commission for Protection of Child Rights (RCPCR) carried out a rescue operation of twenty eight girls and one boy, aged between 5 and 17, closeted in an illegal “child’s home” called Grace Home in Mansarovar area of Jaipur.

In a related operation later in the evening, 20 boys were rescued from another child home in Siddharth Nagar. Jacob John, a pastor who has been running the homes was arrested by the local police on charges of wrongful confinement, kidnapping and trafficking. Of the rescued girls, 23 of them are from Manipur, the rest from states like Nagaland, Assam, Punjab, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh while all the boys are also predominantly from north-east.

Six gunny bag full of empty liquor bottles, a butcher’s knife and a rod were among the suspicious articles recovered from the girls’ home. The ‘kitchen’ of the home emanated a stench which got unbearable as one approached the store room – filled with rotting cauliflowers, cabbages and fungus-covered peas and brinjals.

The bathrooms were filthy, without electricity and the children were made to sleep in tiny rooms with at least six of them holed into one. A 14-year old boy from Ukhrul district in Manipur made “in charge” of the girls’ home said, “Jacob used to live here with us till 2010. Then he got married to a foreigner from Holland and shifted out.” An adult Dharampal Singh was the caretaker of the boys’ home.

“Jacob has registered two societies – Tholita Kume Foundation and Grace Missionary since 1996. But the child homes are not registered under the Juvenile Justice Act. He has not maintained any documents or records of the children. There also appear to be more intermediaries involved in bringing the children here,” said Govind Beniwal, member SCPCR. The Commission engineered the rescue operation acting on a tip off from FFXB India Suraksha an NGO in Jaipur with the help of Tangkhul Shanao Long, Delhi group whose members from north-east helped in communicating with the children, the local police and the administration. John’s sister-in-law, who lives in Manipur is, by his own admission a conduit for sending kids from there on promise of a “better education” to children’s parents, mostly from rural backgrounds.

“The liquor bottles belonged to an ex-staffer whom we have expelled. We forgot to throw them away….I wanted to stop this activity (of running a home) so many times, but then the children would have had nowhere to go. We teach them everything here till the 9th after which they take exams under the NIOS,” Jacob said in defence.