All seven children who broke out of the Gandhinagar Children Protection Home on Monday were found by the police in the afternoon of October 28, Thursday, at an abandoned government house in Sector 21. The seven kids had fled from the Home on Monday morning.
A complaint was filed by the Protection Home Superintendent at the Sector 21 police station. The children were transferred from the Bavla Child Protection Home to the Gandhinagar facility on September 2.
On the morning of October 25, eight kids aged between 6 to 18 years left for their school in an auto-rickshaw. Three of them went to the Sector 21 government primary school and five went to the Sector 16 government secondary school. By the end of the day, only one child returned to the protection home. Superintendent Mehul Taraiya then filed a complaint regarding the missing children at the Sector 21 police station.
On September 2, 16 children were transferred to the Gandhinagar premises from the Child Protection Home at Bavla, Ahmedabad. Over the last 55 days, till now, 12 out of the 16 children have gone missing. The streak of children running away from the Home started on September 17. Between September 17-20, five children had fled, out of which two were found at Abu in Rajasthan.
When Vibes of India tried to investigate the matter further, our efforts were stonewalled. As we entered the campus gate, the security cabin was locked. A lady police personnel who was sitting at a desk adjacent to the locked door of the building said she would connect us with someone, but asked the reporters to not shoot or record anything. She called over two men, identifying the reporters as being from the press; but the two men declined to reveal any information.
Declining to identify themselves, they stated, “We have written orders from our director not to speak with any media person.” A call to the District Child Protection Officer, Gandhinagar, also went unanswered as he informed VoI that his wife had been hospitalized.
A massive effort was undertaken to find the missing kids. Gandhinagar SP Mayur Chavda directed five teams, including one from the local crime branch, to investigate the case. As police started combing CCTV footage and searching public gardens, bus depots and railway stations, an informer led them to the seven children who were hiding in the abandoned government house.
Manoj Bharwad, PI, sector 21 police station, detailed their efforts to find the kids. He explains, “Photographs of the children were sent to police stations in the area, and we used our informer networks Finally, one of my sources informed me of their whereabouts. We confirmed the presence of the children with residents and then found them all safe and sound. They underwent a counselling process and were handed over to the Protection Home authorities. Now, we are trying to find the other children who have fled the facility; we are sure that we find them soon.”
Kalrav Mistry, the consultant Psychiatrist and De-Addiction specialist at SHALBY Hospitals, Ahmedabad, says “The case shows symptoms of adjustment disorder that is a result of major changes in one’s routine. As the children were shifted to the Gandhinagar Protection Home recently, they would have faced difficulties in adjusting to a new place. Due to the adjustment dissonance, one loses the ability of social judgment. They feel withdrawal, anxiety, and an uncertain self-copying mechanism lead to impulsive decisions, which in this case led to them breaking out of the Home. If children are counselled before their transfer to another facility and are mentally prepared for the alteration, this issue can be minimized. To provide a sense of security remains the primary need to avoid such instances.”