The newly carved out Union territory Jammu and Kashmir, erstwhile a state, has constituted a new adoption resource agency, Jammu and Kashmir Adoption Resource Agency (J&KARA), after media reports disclosure alleging Covid orphans being tagged ‘for sale’ by traffickers.

The UT established the agency in order to prevent any misconduct, ensuring the safety and well-being of the destitute children, additionally putting them up for adoption legally and providing safe shelter from the predators within the society. 

“Formation of the new adoption resource agency will fortify the steps taken by the government for protection of orphan children especially those rendered by the ongoing pandemic,” said Shabnam Kamili, Mission Director, ICPS (Integrated Child Protection Scheme), as quoted by the Kashmir Observer.

“Earlier, J&K wasn’t registered under CARA as there was no State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) for J&K which would have ensured a better protection of orphans in the Valley,” she added.

The agency is set up under the intelligence of the Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA). It will look after all legal proceedings of adoption and related processes within the UT. 

“But now, after demanding a State level Adoption agency for J&K, the government has constituted J&KARA, which has the authority to ensure the legal adoption and safety of orphans in J&K that will subsequently strengthen the Government and ICPS to provide a safe future for orphans,” Kamili continued. 

The J&K administration decided to establish J&KARA citing concern over media reports alleging illegal adoption and sale of Covid orphans in the valley. 

“That report has been an eye-opener as the reality unearthed by it has augmented the concerns for the safety of orphans in J&K,” Shabnam observed.

“Immediately after J&KARA was constituted, the committee collected details of orphans from all over the valley in order to ensure their safety, welfare and stop the trafficking of orphans. We already had the data of orphans in the valley but the state agency wants to fortify it in a better manner.” 

It is brought to your attention that J&KARA will be running as the executive arm of the J&K administration for surveillance and governance of the adoption programme in the UT. It will also monitor the Adoption Regulations (2017) of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. 

The Mission Director, ICPS, also made public that the agency has collected data based on several criteria.

“We’ve checked whether the orphan has lost a single parent or both parents and who is the legal guardian of the orphan. This will help us to ensure that the orphan is in safe hands or not,” she informed the news portal. 

Shabnam further added, “We’ve also started to collect details of the orphanages that are currently operating in Kashmir and in a month’s time, we will have the data on all the orphanages. This is to make sure that these orphanages follow the legal procedure of adoption regulation policy.” 

The Director shows confidence in the working of the agency to provide safety to the orphans, but the thing that concerns her is cases of trafficking usually happen where the seller is commonly the legal guardian of the child. 

“If a child is kidnapped, a parent will file an FIR but here, after a child is turned into an orphan, the guardian is the one who is involved in trafficking of that child. Till now, no orphan has been found missing from Child care institutions.”

In particular, the J&K Adoption Resource Agency will be headed by the secretary, social welfare department and Mission Director, ICPS. It will also perform other duties if  Central Adoption Resource Authority (CARA) bestows upon them from time to time.