Bhubaneswar, Oct 28 (LocalWire) The lawbreakers who infringed on the penal clauses of child labour and juvenile justice act and engaged nearly 3,000 children in forced manual labour have gone unpunished in Odisha if the child rights activists are to be believed.
Even as nearly 3,000 minor children, caught in vicious child labour trap, were rescued by State police by operation ‘Paree’ initiative last year, those who infringed on the penal clauses of child labour and juvenile justice act and engaged them in forced manual labour go unpunished.
The State police had launched operation ‘Paree’ initiative in September 2018 and rescued 2,895 children including 550 girls with 2,789 from different parts of Odisha and 106 from neighbouring states.
However, no action has been taken against the employers of the children nor against the persons or agencies who had engaged them in manual work, rights activist Akhand alleged.
Deputy General of Police, Special Task Force (STF), Jay Narayan Pankaj, however, thought otherwise.
Most of the rescued children were not found at workplaces and police had spotted them loitering aimlessly. Though majority of them had revealed that they were working in different workplaces, they failed to provide details including the place where they were employed. As a result, it was quite an uphill task to detect the employers and take them to task, Pankaj said.
Police have lodged cases and taken punitive measures against the offenders after they were detected. However, the number of offenders booked under Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, is on a lower scale, he added.
“No action has been initiated against the offenders. In accordance with Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, amended in 2016 (CLPR Act), a “Child” is defined as any person below the age of 14, and the CLPR Act prohibits employment of a child in any employment including as a domestic help”, said rights activist, Akhand, who moved the NHRC recently seeking the apex rights watchdog’s intervention in the matter.
It is a cognizable criminal offence to employ a child for any work. Majority of the rescued children are falling under this category. Police have turned a blind eye towards the child rights abusers, he said seeking the rehabilitation of the rescued children in accordance with the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2015.
It’s pertinent to note here that 6,579 children who missing from their homes in last four years are still untraceable. The State government had earlier admitted the disappearance of children in the assembly.