The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has raised objections to the alleged use of minor children during protests against the removal of "encroachment" from a Railways land in Uttarakhand's Haldwani. The apex child rights body, in a letter to the Nainital District Magistrate, said it had come across various social media reports that showed minor children sitting on the roads and protesting against Indian Railways.
On December 20, Uttarakhand High Court ordered the removal of "encroachment" from Railways land in Haldwani. In compliance with the order, Railways authorities carried out a survey of "illegal" structures that have to be demolished. Residents of the Banbhoolpura area in Haldwani have been agitating against their removal in compliance with the court order.
In the photographs uploaded on various social media platforms, children are clearly seen sitting in the protest with banners in their hands, the commission said. "It is pertinent to mention that children of tender age have been brought to the protest site in these adverse weather conditions which can prove to be dangerous for their health and wellbeing," it added.
The child rights body said it deemed it appropriate to take cognisance of the complaint as using minor children in "illegal protests" was a violation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. "The commission thereby requests your good offices to look into the matter and have a thorough inquiry of the events. Besides, the children which are being used in this illegal protest should be identified and produced before the Child Welfare Committee, if required for ensuring their protection," it added.
Besides, the parents of these children may also be counselled appropriately, it said. "In this context, it is pertinent to mention here that the Commission on earlier occasion has observed that use of children in such illegal protest has resulted in injury and even caused death of minor children in one of the protests," the commission said.
The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the directions of the high court regarding removal of the encroachments. The top court has posted the matter for further hearing on February 7.