J&K Govt To Tighten Adoption Rules For Safety Of Orphans

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J&KARA Constituted After Media Reports Claimed Covid Orphans ‘On Sale’

Srinagar- The Jammu and Kashmir administration has constituted a new adoption resource agency for the erstwhile state to ensure “Care, Welfare & Protection” of the children who were orphaned by the ongoing pandemic, amidst the sensational media reports alleging that “Covid orphans” were being put up for sale by traffickers.

The agency has been set up in order to deal with the process of adopting orphans legally—especially those who lost their parents during Covid—under the guidance of the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA) that was constituted in terms of the Juvenile Justice which deals with the 2015’s Care and Protection of Children Act.

Mission Director, ICPS (Integrated Child Protection Scheme) Shabnam Kamili told Kashmir Observer that formation of the new adoption resource agency will fortify the steps taken by the government for protection of orphan children especially those rendered by ongoing pandemic.

“Earlier, J&K wasn’t registered under CARA as there was no State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) for J&K which would have ensured a better protection of orphans in the Valley.” Shabnam said.

“But now, after demanding a State level Adoption agency for J&K, the government has constituted J&KARA, which has the authority to ensure the legal adoption and safety of orphans in J&K that will subsequently strengthen the Government and ICPS to provide a safe future for orphans.”

The setting up of J&KARA has come on the heels of a recent investigative report alleging illegal “adoption and sale” of children orphaned by Covid in Kashmir.

“That report has been an eye-opener as the reality unearthed by it has augmented the concerns for the safety of orphans in J&K.” Shabnam said.

“Immediately after J&KARA was constituted, the committee collected details of orphans from all over the valley in order to ensure their safety, welfare and stop trafficking of orphans. We already had the data of orphans in the valley but the state agency wants to fortify it in a better manner,” she added.

It is pertinent to mention here that J&KARA will function as the executive arm of the Jammu and Kashmir administration for monitoring and regulation of the adoption programme in the erstwhile state and will also regulate the 2017 adoption regulations of the Union Ministry of Child Development.

As per Mission Director, ICPS, the agency has collected data based on several criteria.

“We’ve checked whether the orphan has lost a single parent or both parents and who is the legal guardian of the orphan. This will help us to ensure that the orphan is in safe hands or not,” she said.

“We’ve also started to collect details of the orphanages that are currently operating in Kashmir and in a month's time, we will have the data on all the orphanages. This is to make sure that these orphanages follow the legal procedure of adoption regulation policy,” she added.

Shabnam further said that there’s absolutely no doubt that the new agency will ensure the safety of orphans but the biggest problem is that in case of trafficked children, the seller is usually the legal guardian.

“If a child is kidnapped, a parent will file an FIR but here, after a child is turned into an orphan, the guardian is the one who is involved in trafficking of that child. Till now, no orphan has been found missing from Child care institutions.”

Notably, the J&K Adoption Resource Agency will be headed by the secretary, social welfare department and Mission Director, ICPS. It will also carry out other functions which may be assigned by the Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) from time to time.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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