The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) suspects the connivance of government officials with a Pune-based foundation in a racket involving the kidnapping of children of poor families and putting them up for adoption. The agency has booked Joginder Singh Bhasin, managing trustee of the Balwant Kartaar Foundation, also known as Preet Mandir, in this connection.
The CBI, in its FIR against the managing trustee and others, has alleged that between 2002 and 2010, Bhasin and associates kidnapped children belonging to poor families in Maharashtra under a criminal conspiracy.
Preet Mandir has rebutted the allegation and said all its adoption cases followed a judicial process. The CBI’s statement said: “He (Bhasin) used to send the children for inter-country adoption and extorted huge amounts of money from the adopting parents…Plus, he was also into illegal trafficking of children. For this purpose, he had opened a rehabilitation centre at Kanhe Phata,” it added.
The agency filed the FIR after being directed by the Mumbai high court to do so.
Maintaining that the racket could not have thrived for so long without the active support of officials of the state government, the CBI said: “Some officials of the Maharashtra government connived with Bhasin. He managed to traffic children to his rehabilitation centre Kanhe Phata in Pune in violation of existing norms.”
Preliminary investigations have found that Bhasin extorted money from Indian parents. “The amount prescribed in adoptions is Rs25,200 per case. In as many as 70 instances between 2005 to 2010, he charged money in excess of Rs50,000,” the statement added.
Evidence has also emerged that he had misappropriated nearly Rs26 lakh from the Balwant Kartaar foundation during 2002 to 2007 by using his personal credit card. “He also used to fraudulently procure rejection slips of Indian parents with a motive to use them to send children for foreign adoptions,” CBI release stated.
The CBI’s case is the outcome of criminal writ petitions filed by NGO’s Advait foundation and Sakhee in 2006 and 2007.
Reacting to the CBI’s charge, the agency’s spokesperson said adoptive parents were given children only after obtaining orders from the family court or the district court.
``Each and every child was admitted to Preet Mandir through judicial process and every child was given in adoption after completing all legal formalities as per the government’s Cara (Central Adoption Resource Authority) guidelines, the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, as well as Supreme Court directions,” he said. Preet Mandir has given more than 2,000 children in adoption in the past 33 years, he added.
With regards to the charge that the Kanhe Phata rehabilitation centre was opened for illegal activities, Preet Mandir said the centre was opened after obtaining the necessary licences from the state government and that it was closed after a damaging TV report in 2006.
Preet Mandir stressed that it was the CBI which twice in the past had given a clean chit to it in the same case.