The recent visit by Priyank Kanoongo, Chairman of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), to a Bengaluru orphanage has ignited controversy and legal repercussions. Kanoongo’s assertion that the children at ‘Darul Uloom Sayideeya Yateemkhana’ are leading a “medieval Taliban life” has resulted in a case filed against him by the Karnataka Police.
The Complaint and Police Case:
Based on a complaint lodged by Ashraf Khan, the orphanage’s secretary, the Karnataka Police registered a case against NCPCR Chairman Priyank Kanoongo. Khan accused Kanoongo of disseminating false information to incite hatred among communities. The complaint challenges Kanoongo’s portrayal of the orphanage, emphasizing that during his surprise inspection, the chairman praised the facilities and committed financial support for further development. Khan expressed astonishment at Kanoongo’s subsequent public comments, questioning the chairman’s comparison of the orphanage to extremist groups.
Ashraf Khan highlighted the orphanage’s role in caring for around 200 children, particularly those orphaned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He emphasized the institution’s smooth operation since 1980, sustained by public support in the form of monetary aid and groceries.
NCPCR Chairman’s Allegations:
Priyank Kanoongo’s visit prompted him to post on social media platform ‘X,’ alleging that the children at the institution exclusively receive Islamic education throughout the day. He claimed that the children are not sent to formal schools and expressed concerns about the lack of toys, stating that they fear Muslim religious scholars (Maulavis). Kanoongo asserted that the children adhere to a strict schedule, waking up at 3:30 am for madrassa (Muslim school) and engaging in Quranic studies from evening to night, with breaks for prayers.
Additionally, Kanoongo drew attention to an alleged separate building on the orphanage premises, claiming that the children were restricted from accessing it. The chairman concluded his remarks by asserting that these children are living a life reminiscent of medieval times, emphasizing that such a lifestyle contradicts constitutional principles.
Legal Ramifications and Orphanage Response:
In response to Kanoongo’s allegations, the DJ Halli police registered a case against him under sections 447, 448, and 295(a) of the Indian Penal Code, covering criminal trespass, house trespass, and acts intended to outrage religious feelings. A subsequent delegation, comprising local leaders and police, visited the orphanage to assess the children’s well-being and scrutinize the institution’s registration status. Ashraf Khan clarified that the institution is registered under the Darul Uloom Sayeediyah Trust, overseeing schools and colleges.