Report admonishes NCPCR for its Shaheen Bagh directive

Anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh.   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) directive seeking counselling for children at Shaheen Bagh is an attempt at “stifling their voice” and “targeting” their community, argues a report prepared by educationists and researchers who visited the protest site and recorded the testimonies of many mothers present there.

“Hatred and suspicion targeted at the Muslim community is what children are being exposed to through television and social media. That seems to be a larger reality that NCPCR ought to be concerned about – about children living and learning in an environment of communal polarisation and political hate speech that has become the ‘new normal’ especially in times of elections,” says the report.

It is based on field observations of the researchers and interactions with children, women and others at Shaheen Bagh and includes views expressed by experts at a panel discussion earlier this month. The study was submitted to the NCPCR on February 9. The authors include Poonam Batra, Professor of Education, University of Delhi, Monica Gupta, Department of Elementary Education at Gargi College, University of Delhi, and Chetan Anand, Research Scholar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. The panellists included Shanta Sinha, the first NCPCR chairperson, and Amit Sen, Senior Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, among others.

It asserts that the NCPCR has failed to do its job in protecting children from police atrocities in Uttar Pradesh and by remaining silent on the issue of the police questioning school children on sedition in Karnataka’s Bidar as well as against rampant sexual abuse in the country. The study also points out that by ordering the South Delhi District Magistrate to identify children and ensure their counselling on the basis of an “anonymous complaint”, and without conducting its own investigation, the Commission violated its own rules. As per the NCPCR’s rules, a complaint should be “clear and legible and not vague, anonymous or pseudonymous”.

The authors say that it is in fact the NCPCR which is subjecting the children to trauma by giving such harmful directives.

“For these children the site is secure, because their parents are there, and the community is there. The children are safe, they are imbibing the best patriotic values and learning the importance of speaking out against perceived injustice. None of this can be equated to trauma. To want to take children for counselling without any kind of assessment, without any kind of discussion is in itself shocking, perhaps traumatic.”

The researchers found that the children at the protest site attended their school regularly and had access to enough safe spaces at Shaheen Bagh such as a makeshift reading room as well as a library and could be seen participating in activities such as drawing and painting.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 3:09:11 AM |

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