NHRC questions UP Govt over 57 girls at a shelter home testing positive for Covid-19

The girls are between 10 – 18 years of age and seven of the infected were found to be pregnant

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After as many as fifty-seven girls at a state-run shelter home in Kanpur were found to be positive for coronavirus, The Indian Express reported. Five out of the affected 57 girls were pregnant, one was found to be HIV positive and another was found to be infected with Hepatitis C.

Various media reports on the matter had cited that the girls had been showing the symptoms for the infection for a few days, but the local administration informed the state health department about it on June 19, 2020. The Indian Express, quoted the shelter home superintendent as saying that the transmission of the virus only came forth after a random sampling test was conducted on June 12, one inmate was found to be positive. Thereafter, all 171 inmates were tested and 57 of them, aged 15 – 17 years were found to be infected.

 After the news sent the UP administration in a frenzy, Kanpur DM Brahma Dev Ram Tiwari said that the five girls who were pregnant had been referred by the Child Welfare Committees of Agra, Etah, Kannauj, Firozabad and Kanpur under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, adding that the seven girls were pregnant when they came to the shelter home, The Indian Express reported.

Kanpur officials suspect that a staffer, a class IV employee who also tested positive for the virus could have been the source of infection as she visited the girls for their treatment. All 57 girls and the employee have now been admitted to hospitals and the rest have been quarantined in a separate building, IE reported.


In light of the incident, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued notices to Rajendra Tiwari, Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh and the Director General of Police, asking for the health status of all the girls and action taken on the matter.

Citing the various media reports, the NHRC said, “The Commission has observed that the contents of the media report, if true, are enough to prima facie believe that the public servants have failed to provide safeguard to the victim girls and, apparently, were negligent in protecting their right to life, liberty and dignity in the custody of the State.”

From the Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh, the NHRC has asked for the health status of all the girls, their medical treatment and counseling provided by the authorities. It has asked the state government to order an inquiry into the matter from an independent agency and directed it to review the health status of female inmates lodged in shelter homes across the state and issue suitable directives so that such incidents aren’t repeated in the future.

From the Director General of Police, UP, the NHRC has called for a report regarding registration of FIR in this matter and status of investigation within 4 weeks.

The National Commission of Women, UP has also issued a notice to the UP administration asking for details about the health status and other details regarding the number of women in the shelter homes and the details of when they were brought there, to be submitted within 24 hours.




Soon after the incident, UP Chief Secretary issued strict orders for implementation of all precautions to be taken to check the spread of Covid-19 in women’s shelter homes, nari niketans and orphanages. The orders stated that before entering the institute, every person, including the staff, should be thermally scanned and that the number of visitors to these institutions should be limited as much as possible.



India Today reported that the order issued by the Chief Secretary stated that infrared thermometers should be made available for checking all people, including staff members, in women shelter homes, nari niketans, orphanages and juvenile homes, and no one with cold, cough or fever should be allowed entry. He also added that sanitizers and face masks should be provided and social distancing norms should be followed at all times, apart from directing that caretakers of these homes should reside in the facilities and ensure that all precautions are being taken.


Citing negligence, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also attacked the BJP government in Uttar Pradesh over the matter.

In a Facebook post she said, “The entire story of the Muzaffarpur (Bihar) shelter home case is in front of the country. Such a case had also come to light in Deoria, UP. In such a situation, the recurrence of such incidents show that in the name of investigations, everything is suppressed, but the incident that has taken place in the government’s child protection homes is very inhumane.”

Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav too has demanded a probe into the incident.




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