ANDHRA PRADESH

Child rights forum unveils mystery over child labourer's death

Vijayawada April 2. What could have passed off as a mere accidental death turned out to be a case of murder of an innocent 12-year-old child labourer, as revealed subsequently thanks to the initiative of the Forum for Child Rights.

The victim, Ramesh, a resident of Cheepurugudem village in Krishna district, was working as an agricultural labourer and was subjected to constant beating and abuses by the landlord. But on February 10 this year, in a fit of rage, the landlord allegedly assaulted Ramesh resulting in the boy's death. However, in a bid to hush up the case, the landlord tried to convert the murder into an accident by burying the boy under a haystack. The landlord's henchmen raised an alarm stating that the boy got accidentally crushed after the stack collapsed.

However, on a tip-off from two local social workers, Shyamala and Jose, a team from the forum rushed to the place for an on-the-spot inquiry.

"The forum then pressured the local police to take up investigation and the post-mortem report revealed that the boy died due to head injuries caused by assault and the landlord has been subsequently arrested,'' says the team leader, Sundaram.

The Forum for Child Rights on Tuesday set up a "Childline'' extension booth at the Vijayawada Railway Station. Divisional Railway Manager, Vijayawada Division, Satish Kumar, formally inaugurated the booth.

According to the Forum, the ill-treatment meted out to Ramesh and his subsequent death has become an eye-opener as the villagers have now started sending their children to the school. About 40 such children who were earlier working as child labourers in the village are now going to the school at the initiative of the forum.

The forum since its establishment in Vijayawada in November 2000 has so far rescued about 650 runaway kids mostly found loitering at the Railway Station after a tiff with their parents or relatives.

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