Srinagar- The Jammu and Kashmir administration is all set to establish cradle centers across the major hospitals and healthcare institutions in the Valley to tackle the ghastly incidents of abandoning of newborn babies by couples near dumping sites.
The administration’s move comes amidst multiple complaints of parents and couples abandoning their newborn babies near water bodies, garbage bins, or other dumping spots.
According to an order issued by the Director, social welfare department (SWD), a copy of which lies with Kashmir Observer, all the maternity hospitals across the Union Territory have been directed to set-up the cradle centers for abandoned new-born babies and spots near the hospitals.
The department has also directed them to put out signage of cradles centers at places considered most appropriate to receive such children like District Hospitals with Maternity, Gynecology and Pediatric units which are visible from a distance, 24/7 and 365 days.
The Child protection unit, Mission Vatsalya of the SWD has written to all district social welfare departments and top hospitals in Srinagar city, including LD Hospital, Children’s Hospital Bemina, JLNM Rainawari, SKIMS Soura Hospital and SKIMS Bemina (JVC) to set-up the cradle centers inside the hospitals and put the signage so that people would get to know about it.
Mission Vatsalya is a centrally sponsored scheme launched by the Government of India’ s Ministry of Women and Child Development aimed at building a protective environment for the children. It lays emphasis on child rights, advocacy and awareness along with strengthening of the juvenile justice care and protection system with the motto to ‘leave no child behind’.
The scheme is implemented by the SWD through J&K State Child Protection Society.
Notably, in the past a number of videos went viral on social media where newborn babies were found near the dumping sites. In many videos dogs were seen mauling the newborns, sending shock waves across Kashmir. The newborn babies suffering from autism, down syndrome, disabilities etc are also thrown around garbage bins and other dumping sites.
The issue of dumping newborns was taken up by Srinagar-based lawyer and Right to information activist Badrul- Duja with the SWD.
Duja told Kashmir Observer that he is witness to a number of cases regarding abandoning of newborn children, particularly at spots or locations such as dumping sites, outside hospitals, water-bodies, etc.
“These places are becoming easy spots for couples or parents to abandon their newborns and putting their lives and safety at risk,” he said.
In order to prevent this, Duja said, it was imperative to provide cradle centers/spots especially across sites such as mosques, marriage halls, water bodies, private and public hospitals, dispensaries, garbage dumping sites etc, and also to ensure such couples/parents are protected from CCTV access identity.
“It was the need of the hour to put cradles across these spots immediately. Now since the Government has started the process. It’s a good sign,” he added.
Commissioner Secretary to Government SWD, Sheetal Nanda told Kashmir Observer that the process of setting-up cradle centers has been started in all the hospitals across the UT to ensure that no child is abandoned.
“The idea is if there is any abandoned or an orphan baby, we should come to know. We will take care of the babies,” she said.
An official of the SWD said that over 2155 rescued children have been sheltered in childcare institutions in J&K under the Mission Vatsalya scheme in the last three years.
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