Protection of child rights

We frequently hear that childhood must be preserved, even poets in their flight of emotional imaginations have wished what if childhood returned even symbolically temporarily. The rain water and the paper boat and to navigate it to its route whatever and whenever recalled or imagined creates an ecstasy of a peculiar joyous moment of childhood . However, when we see children picking up rags, engaged virtually as bonded labour in eateries, factories and other work places, even as domestic helps, not to speak of virtually imprisoning them to extract maximum manual labour in conspicuously situated small manufacturing units , we either turn to the other side or treat it to be their fait accompli. We perhaps forget that basically children are dependent on adults and the travesty is that many children are abducted and perhaps never traced by the police as per Crime Bureau’s data and pressed into begging or other crimes besides physically exploited. The scenario may be differing in extent and degrees from state to state , from UT to UT but the common most important factor in every situation is to assess to what extent are rights of children protected , how much we in whatever position, capacity and propriety are ensuring such rights recognised, respected and protected besides on the touchstones of human values and carefully nursing a priceless national asset and prospective tremendous human resource – complying with and implementing various legal and constitutional requirements.
It is a matter to be underlined with concern that all is absolutely not well in Jammu and Kashmir in respect of protection of child rights as various recommendations made by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) in the immediate past have not been taken seriously by the Government. The Commission, after having visited concerned departments in March 2020 and assessing the position on the spot leading to deliberations with the authorities in respect of how to better the lot of the children appear to have been taken casually. We do not feel any hesitation in holding that a general trend of taking to streets and employing all methods of protests to have demands and rights met and fulfilled cannot be done by the children and therefore no care about their rights. Since it is the area of child labour which is vulnerable to extreme exploitation , relevant committees and appointing authorities under Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act have not been constituted in the absence of which rights of children cannot be protected and ensured to be safeguarded. Under the Reorganisation Act 2019, complying with such requirements on uniform basis not only became mandatory but smooth as well.
Is there a proper co-ordination between the UT Law Department and the Social Welfare Department in respect of framing relevant laws covering rights of children for enforcing the same , it is reliably known that there was none as the concerned department has not even approached the Law Department for the same. It can be weighed in its perspective as to how much inter-departmental and review consultation made by the Chairperson of the NCPCR vis-à-vis attending to areas of weaknesses and shortcomings in implementation process and compliance norms by the UT administration through the concerned department has not taken place. Developing the requisite infrastructure and building up a robust institutional mechanism are the two main pillars of the child rights protection in which more is to be done rather starting from the ground zero position.
Literary, children cannot supervise, oversee and assess about the levels of what was being done for protecting their rights hence protecting their future is our duty as they are innocent, suffering from deficient healthcare,, malnutrition, neglect and inadequate opportunities for basic education. Theirs are special needs if analysed in totality, the requisite dignity and living a normal life for which the society , the concerned institutions, wings of the Government and even the judiciary have to perform critical and pointed role . The most important areas are education and healthcare for them and it is heartening that many individuals who become faces in the crowd and some NGOs volunteer to help children especially neglected ones and increasingly less privileged but that all is proverbial a drop in the bucket . Therefore, the onus of child rights squarely falls on the Government and its institutional mechanism – social welfare, police, education, medical care and the like in order to enable the children to get rid of squalor , discrimination, exploitation and to ensure proper development to their potential. Hence it is enjoined upon the UT Government , in particular the Social Welfare Department to address the concerns of the NCPCR in respect of following its recommendations and requirements under the relevant Act of the Parliament.