What Is NCPCR, The Body That Has Yet Again Complained Against Rahul Gandhi?

The apex child rights body has previously objected against Rahul Gandhi, Mohammad Zubair, among others, for violating child protection laws and has also raised objections against the 'misuse' of children during the anti-CAA protests and demonstrations against the Nupur Sharma controversy.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at Bharat Jodo Yatra

Amid a barrage of digs and jibes regarding the ongoing 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' by Congress, party leader Rahul Gandhi has run into a fresh path of trouble after a child rights body complained about the leader "misusing" children "as political tools" for the campaign. The charge has been brought by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which has called it a  violation of Election Commission rules which say that only adults can be part of a political party.

What is NCPCR's complaint about Congress "misusing" children?

In a recent statement, the NCPCR said, "Many disturbing images and videos have been circulating on social media wherein it can be seen that children are being targeted and are made to participate in their campaign with a political agenda under the slogan Bharat Jodo, Bacche Jodo". In its appeal to the poll body, the apex child rights body has demanded an inquiry into a complaint filed against Rahul Gandhi.

The complaint alleged that Gandhi and Jawahar Bal Manch are "targeting children with political intentions and getting them involved in political activities," India Today reported.

In a letter to the EC, the NCPCR also alleged that the use of children in the campaign was tantamount to "prima facie violation of child rights. 

"The use of children as props to fulfil a political agenda is child abuse, which can have a severe long-term impact on their mental health and is against Article 21 of the Indian Constitution," the letter noted. 

The child rights body further urged the EC to take action against Gandhi and the party. 

What is NCPCR?

The NCPCR is a statutory body that was formed in 2005 following the Commission for Protection of Child Rights Act. It became operational in March 2007 and has since been working under the aegis of the Ministry of Women and Child Development. It is currently being chaired by Priyank Kanoongo and actively works for the protection of child rights. 

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh reacted to the NCPCR's complaints by calling them efforts to derail the Bharat Jodo Yatra. "The NCPCR started by Dr. Manmohan Singh's Government has now become an RSS affiliate nothing less. Pathetic efforts to derail Bharat Jodo Yatra," Ramesh said on Twitter.

Not new to controversy

In recent years, the body has been involved in several controversial decisions. Last year, an NCERT teaching manual that included sensitization about transgender children in schools and the need for transgender toilets was withdrawn after protests by NCPCR. Kanoongo had at the time defended the move, which outraged many from the queer as well as the educationists' community, by stating that introducing transgender toilets would increase the risk of sexual violence.

Following the protests against Nupur Sharma's prophet remarks earlier this year, Kanoongo had claimed that children were used in many "violent demonstrations" such as the protests held in Delhi's Jama Masjid. The body sought an NIA investigation into the use of children in what it termed "communal protests".

The NCPCR had also submitted a report based on which the Delhi Police had lodged FIRs against two childcare homes associated with human rights activist and BJP critic Harsh Mander following the Delhi riots in February 2020. The body claimed that children from the homes were sent to anti-CAA protests, an act which would be in violation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. The report was decried by Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) which said that the bodies like NCPCR cannot become "mediums for advancing a political ideology" and subverting democracy.

Complaints against Rahul Gandhi, Mohammad Zubair

This is not the first time that the NCPCR has accused Rahul Gandhi of violation of child rights. Last year, the body accused Rahul Gandhi of POCSO violation after the leader shared a photo that revealed the identity of family members of a rape victim. It asked Twitter to remove the photo, landing Gandhi in a massive political slugfest.

The Delhi Police had also booked fact-checker Mohammad Zubair under a POCSO case after the NCPCR filed a complaint against the Alt News founder regarding a 2020 tweet by Zubair which showed the photo of minor girl arguing with her father, though the face of the minor was blurred out. The Delhi High Court later told police to not take any coercive action against Zubair in the case, as per a report in The Indian Express.

Another roadblock for Bharat Jodo Yatra 

The Congress has launched the Bharat Jodo Yatra with an aim to strengthen the party's grassroots level connection. The yatra, which began on September 7, will cover 3,570 km from Kanyakumari to Kashmir over a period of five months.

However, since its inception, the Yatra has been dogged by negative backtalk by the ruling BJP and other Opposition parties. BJP leaders have decried the yatra as a campaign to save the Gandhi family and mocked it by calling it "Bharat Choro Yatra". Meanwhile, the Aam Aadmi Party has also taken potshots at the Congress' comeback campaign. 

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has also been mocked by the BJP on social media for wearing expensive clothes and shoes while participating the Yatra. Nevertheless, the party has been reporting high participation in the rallies.


(With inputs from PTI)