New Delhi: In June this year, the Supreme Court of India expressed concern over illegal adoption of children whose parents had died of COVID-19. A bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Aniruddha Bose asked state and union territories to take action against NGOs or individuals indulging in illegal adoptions. The bench pointed out that no adoption of affected children should be permitted contrary to the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2015.
The court said no adoption of a child can be permitted without the involvement of the Central Adoption Resource Authority. The order came in a suo motu matter relating to the welfare of children in protection homes.
During the hearing, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had told the apex court that between April 1, 2020 and June 5, 2021, 3,621 children were orphaned, 26,176 lost one parent, and 274 were abandoned across the country. These deaths, the commission said, were not related just to COVID-19 and could have been to other reasons as well.
Gulf News carried out investigation on illegal adoption of COVID-19 orphans and met Rajiv Mandal (name changed), a human trafficker from Siliguri, West Bengal. Rajiv admitted he has been involved in human trafficking for years and regularly traffics labourers for domestic and other work. Rajiv agreed to provide us a COVID-19 orphaned 2-year-old girl for illegal adoption for Rs200,000 (Dh10,000) without any paperwork or the legal formalities required for adoption.
Rehan Ansari (name changed), another trafficker from Delhi, provided us a picture of 2-month-old COVID-19 orphan girl for illegal adoption. He demanded Rs500,000. And said the adoption could go ahead without any legal paperwork. Ansari, who runs a firm, confessed to Gulf News that he is regularly getting calls from his network of traffickers to sell COVID-19 orphaned children.
Javed Amin (name changed), an activist from Jammu and Kashmir offered us three COVID-19 orphaned children in the age group of two to three years for illegal adoption. In exchange, he demanded Rs150,000 per month funding for his NGO. He even confessed that he can provide as many as 40-50 such orphaned children for illegal adoption.
Using social media
Noble peace prize winner Kailash Satyarthi’s NGO’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) campaigner, Rakesh Senger, told Gulf News that the illegal adoption of COVID-19 orphans is on the rise. The traffickers are even using social media platforms.
Anirban Majumdar, from the Kalchini police station in the district of Alipur Dwar, West Bengal, told Gulf News that in his police career he recovered several minor girls from the clutches of traffickers who were being taken to be sold to interested buyers. Such people are presently in jail on serious charges after arrest.
Another cop posted in Sikkim said that last year, in the joint operation with Assam police, they had recovered many minor children from illegal adoption. All traffickers are presently in jail.
A senior Delhi Cop on the condition of not publishing his name said that illegal adoption of minor children is not a new thing. This is an old trade. And in covid this trade is on the rise.