Fifty-seven girls have tested positive for the novel coronavirus at a state-run children’s shelter home, in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Reportedly, five of them were found to be pregnant, and one HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) positive. On Monday, news reports about the case that took place in the state’s Kanpur district sent Twitter users into a frenzy, angering many.
Twitter users questioned UP’s lawmakers and administrators to find out who was responsible for the situation of the minor girls. Twitter user @shaktividhi posted: “How did the minor girls get pregnant? Who is behind [this]! Now if #YogiAdityanath has any spine he should put posters of the culprits on the street, he loves doing it, right?”
Tweep @Nadeem_gaur92 tweeted: “Horror stories from Uttar Pradesh continue. What a shame for our system and institutions.”
After the reports went viral, addressing the media on Sunday evening, UP administration officials said the girls were pregnant before they started living in the shelter, ahead of the lockdown. Kanpur district magistrate Brahma Deo Ram Tiwari reportedly said that there were seven pregnant girls living in the home, and five of them tested positive for Covid-19. He said these girls were already pregnant when they were brought to the shelter home on the recommendation of child welfare committees in different districts
Tweep @AmilwithanL posted: “UP Women's Commission seeks records of pregnant minors in the #Kanpur Shelter Home. Has sought information on their date of admission and from which district they were brought...”
According to an Indian news website, theprint.com, Kanpur’s senior superintendent of Police Dinesh Kumar P. said: “Many are spreading rumours that these girls got pregnant while at the shelter home, which absolutely isn’t true. This is not a case akin to Muzaffarpur. We haven’t been able to access all the documents due to the shelter being sealed, but when we get them, it will be clear since when they have been pregnant. We will also be able to find who came and went in the last two months, and how the coronavirus spread.”
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Meanwhile, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi also took to Facebook to address the issue of the girls being found pregnant. She wrote: “The case at the shelter home in Muzaffarpur (Bihar) is in front of the country. A similar case also emerged in UP’s Deoria. So, for another such case to emerge shows that in the name of probes, everything is suppressed. But, there are many inhuman incidents happening at state-run child shelter homes.”
Facebook user Varsha Bhaik commented: “Audit for safety and security of all welfare homes for children and girls needs to be done every year with the help of health department, police and civil societies by Ministry of Women and Children’s Development. But sensible governance is a dead dream in India now, overshadowed by propaganda on all fronts...”
Reportedly, UP Women’s Commission member Poonam Kapoor added: “No males are allowed to enter the shelter. Such matters shouldn’t be twisted — the girls were already pregnant.”
She also said that some staff members had gone to Kanpur’s Hallet Hospital (now known as Lala Lajpat Rai Hospital/GSVM Medical College), which turned out to be the source of the Covid-19 infection.
The shelter home has been sealed, and its staff quarantined, and an investigation under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Posco) Act is going on in all these cases.
Reportedly, all the girls found Covid-19 positive, are being treated at the Kanpur Medical College.