Thirty-six children between the age of one to 18 have disappeared from the Niradhar Balsangopan Anath Ashram in Dapodi in Pune.
The incident took place just two days after the Dnyanadevi-Childline social workers found all 36 children eating together in a single room on the ground floor of the two-storey structure, the construction of which is still incomplete.
Anuradha Saharsrabudhhe, director of Childline and a Juvenile Justice Board member, said, "After this information from field social workers, I called Malan Tulwe on her cell phone posing as a donor who was ready to give a hefty sum. She told me she had 36 children between one and 18 years of age and said she was ready to accept the sum."
The social workers then gave the tip-off to Child Welfare Committee (CWC) members who in turn informed the District Women and Child Development Officer. They conducted a raid at the orphanage and could not find any children there.
A similar case had been reported at the orphanage last year when CWC members checked on it after a tip-off.
When MiD DAY contacted District Women and Child Officer Suvarna Pawar, she said they were yet to get the necessary proof that children were indeed being kept at the Niradhar Balsangopan Anath Ashram. "We will keep a tab on the ashram till we get proof and then file a case," she said. On her visit to the Saraswati ashram, she said that a notice would be issued to it for gross violation of rules. "The underage children will be taken in custody and will be placed in orphanages which have permission to keep smaller children," she said. Pawar added that illegal orphanages would be made to shut down and violation of rules would not be tolerated.