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Rohtak child crusaders offered conditional freedom
Published on 20 Aug. 2009 11:36 PM IST
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Nishita and Himanshu, who were shifted to an orphanage, may be allowed to go home soon, but on the condition that they won’t sit on dharna. The two have been fighting for the release of their father. Their release has strict conditions attached: they cannot spend their days on the pavement outside the Rohtak courthouse. For a month, 11-year-old Nishita and her younger brother have camped on that pavement, demanding that their father be released from prison. After NDTV highlighted their story, local officials moved them into an orphanage. They claimed this was for the children’s safety, but the gesture suggests that the administration was left embarrassed by the heart-wrenching image of two young children, crouched in a make-shift tent, clutching placards that ask for their father’s freedom. Three years ago, their mother was gang-raped in a moving car. Their father and mother then allegedly drank poison. Their mother died, and though their father survived, officials arrested him for poisoning his wife. At four on Thursday morning, the police arrived, picked up the children who were fast asleep at their usual watch post outside the court, and moved them to a state-run orphanage. Local activists were enraged but “The children were moved under the Juvenile Justice Care and Protection Act ...they were not safe on the street ...and there was no ill treatment of either the grandparents or the children,” countered PC Meena, DC, Rohtak. The children’s grandparents spent a tense day waiting to see them. They’ve been made to sign an affidavit stating that the children will not camp outside the court because officials claim this amounts to exploitation. However, the family has been told it can hold other protests. Early on Thursday morning, the police also arrested the man who they believe led the gang-rape that has left this family in pieces.

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