Staff Reporter

A large number of school children take part in a special congregation

NEW DELHI: Expressing concern over the Nithari killings in Noida, a large number of government and public school children participated in a special congregation organised by Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti at Tees January Marg here on Thursday.

Children from Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Trilokpuri; Sanskriti School, Chanakyapuri; Vardhaman Shiksha Mandir and Gyan Mandir joined in a common prayer.

Pointing out that Mahatma Gandhi had said that to achieve real peace in the world it was necessary to begin with children, Amar Sarkar, a Class XI student of Sanskriti School, Chanakyapuri, said: "Are we really following on Bapuji's footsteps? Can we say that children are safe and secure in this world? The Nithari killings have shocked people across the globe. It is a moment to think and act and also pray for those children who became victims of greed and passion. It is also time to stand for their families in this hour of grief."

On an average, over 40,000 children go missing annually in India. Of these, 12,000 are never found. But a bigger revelation is that a majority of the missing cases are never reported; only a fraction of them are mentioned in the official records, said Amar.

Raising the issue of child trafficking, Archana Kumari, a Class IX student of Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Trilokpuri, said it had become quite rampant in the country. "Children are being kidnapped for not only ransom but also for camel racing, forced begging or stealing, slavery, forced marriages and even organ transplantation."

While in Chhattisgarh naxalites are closing down schools and taking away tribal children to training camps, in Orissa children kidnapped from tribal areas are forced into begging and other hazardous work outside the State, added Archana.

Speaking on the occasion, Tara Gandhi Bhattacharjee, granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi and Vice-Chairperson of Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, observed that children protection was an important issue.

"All sections of society should make a determined effort to ensure that children are not subjected to violence and crime. Children participation in society is important and if we can highlight the good initiatives taken by them in peace and non-violence, we can send a positive message across the world."