A government official, tasked with protecting and reforming children, was seen mercilessly beating up a girl in shocking CCTV footage from a juvenile home in Agra. In another video that raises serious questions about the safety of children at the home, a girl is seen with her hands and legs tied.
One of the children at the juvenile home had also attempted suicide a few days ago.
The superintendent of the home, Poonam Pal, has been suspended and a case has been registered against her. Pal was allegedly involved in similar incidents at a juvenile home in Prayagraj as well.
The first video, which emerged on Monday, shows a room where a girl is lying on one cot and six other juvenile detainees are resting on three cots that are kept together. Pal is seen barging into the room and mercilessly thrashing the girl, scolding the other children and then slapping one of them while another employee looks on.
An even more disturbing video came out on Tuesday. A girl, who appears to be no more than seven years old, is seen lying prone on the side of a bed with her hands and legs tied. Her desperate efforts to get up and free herself make her appear to be slithering next to the bed.
Agra Division Commissioner Ritu Maheshwari said, “The superintendent of the home, Poonam Pal and other staff members involved in the incidents have been suspended. The district magistrate has been ordered to take strict action, and an FIR has been filed.”
The Agra district judge, additional district judge and the chairperson of the shelter home committee also inspected the home on Wednesday and unearthed many shortcomings. Beedis and chewing tobacco were found in one of the rooms occupied by the juveniles, one of the detainees had much more money than was allowed and the food being given to the children was found to be inadequate.
“The videos show that, instead of being kept safe, the children were being tortured. After the first video surfaced. We had approached the district magistrate and demanded an FIR, which has been registered,” said Naresh Paras, a child rights activist.