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JK High Court to hear PIL on orphans on July 7

Written by: Staff

Srinagar, Jun 5 (UNI) The Jammu and Kashmir High Court will hear the case related to 501 orphans, who were sent to a Pune-based orphanage, on July 7 after the state Advocate General said he would consult the government on the future course of action vis-a-vis the fate of the children.

A division bench, comprising Chief Justice Bashir Ahmed Khan and Justice Bashir Ahmed Kirmani, listed the case for July 7 after hearing the arguments of Kashmir Bar Association (KBA) President Mian Abdul Qayoom and state Advocate General Altaf Naik.

Mr Naik said he will consult the state government about the future course of action about the orphans and report back to the court.

The bench had earlier asked the state government to explain its position on findings that more than 270 children sent to an orphanage in Pune in December last year were not orphaned by the devastating earthquake of October 8, 2005.

It said of the 501 children sent to the Bharatiya Jain Sangathan at Pune in Maharashtra, only 110 were earthquake victims while 114 belonged to Jammu.

''That leaves more than 270 children (from Kashmir) who were not affected by the earthquake and still sent to the BJS,'' the court observed.

The bench held that the controversy now revolved around the children who were not affected by the earthquake, but had still been sent to Pune and asked the state government to explain circumstances by which it sought to conduct their educational pursuits outside.

The next date of hearing in the case has been fixed for tomorrow.

In December last year, the KBA filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), challenging the government move to shift some 500 children, reportedly affected by the October 8 powerful earthquake, outside the state.

The Bar had questioned the authority of the state government to shift the children from Kashmir to Pune and had described the move as ''violation of international convention of rights of the child''.

During the hearing in the case on December 28 last year, the Bar Association pleaded that it was not the first time that children from Kashmir were being taken out of the state.

In 2003, the Bar said 200 children were taken to Pune and handed over to Sarhad, a non-governmental organisation.

In the petition, the KBA described the shifting of children from Kashmir as ''exploitation of children orphaned in the ongoing movement'' and said displacement, as a form of rehabilitation, was contradiction in terms.

It cited a veto of the Maharashtra State Assembly on a move to relocate children of the Latur earthquake in Pune.

The bench that time had directed the state government to furnish credentials of Sarhad and BJS, the organisations to which it had handed over the children.

The state government later through an affidavit informed the court that the BJS was engaged in rehabilitation work of Latur temblor and had imparted education to the earthquake-affected children of Jabalpur.

The state government informed the court that ten teachers and six officials of the Social Welfare Department escorted the children and said sufficient care of their well-being was taken.

On December 25 last year, about 91 out of 500 children returned after feeling home sick. Out of these, 74 were from the Kashmir valley and 17 others from Rajouri, Poonch and Doda.

On March one this year, the court ordered a stay on shifting of all those children who returned from Pune.


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