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Karnataka Police book Child Panel Chief Kanoongo for comparing Bengaluru Muslim orphanage with “Medieval Taliban Life”

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Bangalore: The Karnataka Police have booked National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) chairman Priyank Kanoongo for comparing the conditions at the Bengaluru Muslim orphanage to a “medieval Taliban life.” After a surprise inspection of the Darul Uloom Sayideeya Yateemkhana in Kaval Bairasandra under the DJ Halli (Devarajeevanahalli) Police Station limits on November 21, Kanoongo said the orphanage was being run illegally, lacked toys, and the children appeared if they saw any “Maulvi” coming their way. The police registered a case based on the complaint filed by Ashraf Khan, secretary of the Yateemkhana.

Khan told the Indian Express he was taken aback by Kanoongo’s post on X and questioned how ahead of the constitutional body could draw comparisons between the Taliban and the orphanage’s facilities and kids.

“When Kanoongo came here, he claimed to be from the human rights commission. He inspected the entire premises. The children who had their lunch were sleeping inside, and he appreciated the facilities provided and was also assured to provide funds to develop the place. We also explained to him that more than 60 orphan children who lost their parents during COVID-19 were being taken care of,” Khan said.

The organization was founded in 1980 and has grown since the pandemic because the virus claimed the lives of many children’s parents.

DJ Halli police filed a complaint in accordance with sections 295(a) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 447 (criminal trespass), and 448 (house trespass). This FIR comes after the NCPCR directed the Karnataka chief secretary to register a case against the orphanage, saying the children at the facility are living a “medieval Taliban life.”

Kanoongo, known for his anti-Muslim bias, alleged that the kids are forced to wake up at 3:30 in the morning to go to the madrassa and sleep in the afternoon. They don’t have access to television or other forms of entertainment and are trained to read the Quran from dusk until dawn, with brief pauses for namaz during the day. He further claimed that the orphanage possessed assets valued at billions of rupees. The NCPCR has already sent a letter to the Karnataka chief secretary stating that a case needs to be registered under sections 42 (foster care), 34 (state government’s role in maintaining children’s homes), and 75 (abusing or neglecting children) of the Juvenile Justice Act, according to a report in the newspaper. The child panel also sought a report within a week.

Speaking to the media, the Yateemkhana’s officials and instructors stated that the NCPCR team appreciated their hard work during the visit. According to their complaint, on November 19, around two in the morning, a group of men and women posing as human rights activists paid a visit to their trust-run orphanage.

The station house officer (SHO) of DJ Halli Police Station, speaking to the website South First, stated that the management of the orphanage soon gave the police the trust deeds after the police had first sent a notice to the orphanage requesting its registration certificate and other bona fides.

Concurrently, the management lodged a formal complaint against the group of individuals who allegedly inspected the orphanage. In response to this complaint, the police filed criminal trespassing charges against Kanoongo and other individuals, as well as charges of inciting religious intolerance and hatred toward the minority community on social media. Furthermore, the activists failed to provide the Yateemkhana with any prior notice and lacked documentation proving their affiliation with the NCPCR.

This is not NCPCR’s first encounter with Muslim-run establishments or madrasas, particularly during Kanoongo’s tenure. In an affidavit filed before the Allahabad High Court earlier this year, the NCPCR stated that “education imparted to children in madrasas is not adequate or comprehensive” in relation to a matter pertaining to state funding for religious minority education. The NCPCR has repeatedly targeted madrasas and accused them of being in violation of the Right to Education (RTE) Act in states like Uttar Pradesh and others. It seems Kanoongo doesn’t know that madrasas were exempted under the RTE Act.

In that instance, the child panel said that education in madrasas is a flagrant violation of the law and sought to assist the court in the matter through an impleadment application (IA). It asked all states and Union Territories to look into any government-funded and approved madrassas that were taking in non-Muslim children earlier in December 2022. Since taking charge of the child panel, Kanoongo, whose links are not a secret, has been in the news for the wrong reasons.