As the row over alleged trafficking of over 500 children from eastern states to orphanages in Kerala continued, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy Wednesday said there were procedural violations, but refused to go further into the matter, holding that a probe was on.
“There were certain procedural lapses and if there is anything more that will be known only after the investigation, which is progressing,” he said when asked about the incident during a cabinet briefing.
Making it clear that he has his own views on the issue, Chandy said it was not proper on his part to say anything when the probe was on.
On UDF’s key-partner IUML’s objection to the way in which the issue was treated by the home department, he said they had not objected, but only aired their opinion on the matter.
The CM said that in the wake of the incident, functioning of orphanages would be made transparent and ambiguities, if any, would removed.
“All should follow rules and procedures and there is no doubt about it. A comprehensive probe is on and after the probe, necessary action will be taken to make transparent the functioning of orphanages,” he said.
Chandy said even if the objective of those who brought children was good, there should be transparency in everything.
Asked about reports that a high-level meeting had concluded that the incident was not child trafficking, he said ministers routinely meet him at his chamber before and after cabinet meetings.
As the incident snowballed into a major issue, the state child rights panel yesterday directed government to send back the children to their home states — Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal — within three weeks, after it found they were brought without due documents and not following procedures under Juvenile Justice Act and Orphanage and Other Charitable Homes Act.
A police investigation was under way by a special team in the case and an FIR has been lodged following the arrest of eight persons, who accompanied 586 children at Palakkad to
where they were brought in two batches by train.
The children, meant to be taken to some orphanages, had been kept in state-run juvenile homes of the Child Welfare Society in Palakkad, Malappuram and Thrissur.
A team of officials, who came from Jharkhand on Sunday, are still in Kerala verifying the documents that children had brought with them.
The issue has also caused ruptures within the ruling UDF with key partner IUML resenting the measures taken by the Home Department.