Our Appeal !
We have responses from across the world and people are expressing their serious concerns about our interventions. Some of them has also contributed which enable us to clear out office rent dues. We are hopeful for some more contributions soon as per commitments.
We are overwhelmed and tender our heartily gratitude to all the concerned friends.
Unfortunately we are still far from our immediately need of resources which ensure to restore our all the activities.
We also need attention and affirmative action from all friends and concerns to ensure/ find out some way for regular support to PMARC which ensure continue all the activities without any resources crunch.
Only our collective effort may make it possible.
It is a challenge before each one of us as equal stake holder of PMARC.
Girl Alleges Gangrape at Birthday Party – The new Indian Express
This man was killed for delivering the love letter of an upper caste man – Daily Bhaskar
UP boy hopes to live IIT-B dream with sister’s old laptop – The Times Of India
Filling of backlog vacancies of SC/ST – Business Standard
Govt to focus on better nutrition among children – The Times Of India
Fear and loathing in Periyar land – India Today
How DNA tests can help Mumbai’s missing children – DNA
SAU MEIN PACHEES HAQ HAMARA-DAY 2
The new Indian Express
Girl Alleges Gangrape at Birthday Party
By Express News Service Published: 24th July 2015 06:20 AM Last Updated: 24th July 2015 06:20 AM
HYDERABAD: In a shocking incident, three youths from the city allegedly raped a female friend of theirs at a party hosted by one of them at their house. The incident occurred in Kusumanagar, under Vanasthalipuram PS limits.
On July 15, the accused who knew the girl, invited her to a birthday party. When the unsuspecting girl came over, they overpowered and raped her.
They threatened the girl with dire consequences, if she informed anyone. Not able to bear the trauma, the girl finally informed her father, who then lodged a police complaint. Two suspects have since been arrested, while efforts are on to nab the third.
The names of the accused are given as Nihal, Sreekanth and Shine. While Nihal is alleged to be the main accused, the party is learnt to have been hosted by Shine. Police have registered a case under Section 376 Criminal Amendment Act (Nirbhaya), and also under SC/ST Atrocities Act.
Senior police officials said that there are certain contradictory statements by the girl and they are verifying the same.
“The incident is old. The girl and boy knew each other for a while. Two boys share a flat and called the girl for a party. They had some drinks and became physically intimate. Later, they seem to have had some differences. And we are told that the other boy too forced himself on her. We are investigating,” said a senior official.
This man was killed for delivering the love letter of an upper caste man
Dailybhaskar.com | Jul 23, 2015, 17:02PM IST
All those of you who proudly pose in front of the Taj Mahal, showing off the symbol of love in your Facebook display pictures, we would just like you to get a reality check done, because not only do we live in a country where love is throttled, but where messengers of love are buried in the the soil. And 17-year-old Anil Methri’s death is a sad example of how helping lovers in India can land you in trouble, even end your life.
Anil, a Dalit from a small village in Karnataka was killed on July 7, seven days after he was assaulted by upper caste men for delivering a love letter of an upper caste man.
According to The News Minute, Anil’s only mistake was that he couldn’t refuse a man from the high caste Reddy community and agreed to deliver his love letter to a woman from the same caste (upper caste). When the girl’s father came to know about the letter episode, he came to hunt for Anil along with some of his accomplices and assaulted Anil. After finding him unconscious in the fields near the house, his father took him to the hospital, but Anil lost his battle to death as he was forced to consume poison by his murderers.
Now, Anil’s brother Vittal wants an answer to a simple question, why was his brother killed for delivering a letter and why he did not have the freedom to say know to people from a higher caste? Well, that’s only because ours is a country which thrives on inequality.
The Times Of India
UP boy hopes to live IIT-B dream with sister’s old laptop
Vinamrata Borwankar,TNN | Jul 24, 2015, 12.25 AM IST
MUMBAI: Anshu Ahirwar (17) from Uttar Pradesh cracked the IIT entrance exam recently and got admission to IIT-Bombay. But since the results in June, his father, a daily wage-earner has been running from pillar-to-post to ensure his son can live the IIT dream. His classmate Raju Saroj and Brijesh, both brothers, have, however, been the talk of the town and financial aid has poured in for them from across the globe.
Born in a Kaitheri in Jalaun, Uttar Pradesh, Anshu now lives in Orai, in the same district. With a score of 262 in the JEE (Advanced) exam, he secured the 13th rank in the Scheduled Caste category. “I have spent my life working long hours and sweating it out at construction sites. I didn’t want my children to go through it. We moved out of the village so that they could concentrate on their studies, and I assured them that their fees will be managed,” said his father, Teekaram. Anshu has two elder sisters who have completed their Bachelor of Arts and a younger brother who is in high school.
The academic year begins on Monday and Anshu hopes to concentrate on making a mark for himself at the institute. “I want to create software, but I haven’t got a chance to use the computer a lot, as we did not have money to buy one. A few years back, my sister was awarded a laptop when she excelled in her board exams. She allowed me to bring it to IIT, but it is very old,” said Anshu.
Anshu was selected to study at the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV) from Class VI. After excelling in studies till Class X, he got selected for the IIT preparation at JNV, Ranga Reddy, in Telangana. It is there that Anshu studied with Raju.
The family has borrowed around Rs 70,000 back home and Anshu is now applying for scholarships and bank loans. “We had to borrow from friends and local money-lenders. Interest on these loans is very high but there was no other way to meet the deadline for admission,” said Anshu.
On the day of the results, with friends, relatives and neighbours, the local press and politicians thronged the house to congratulate him but none offered help, said Teekaram. “He was featured in some newspapers and on TV, and soon politicians knew about his achievement, but no one offered financial assistance. We tried approaching local politicians but that did not help,” he said.
The family, living in a single room in Orai, had put off house repairs, necessary before the rains, to cut costs. Along with his father, Anshu is in the city to complete the admission procedure for the computer science branch at IIT-Bombay. “We do not know anyone here, so we came directly to the campus. My father too is staying in my hostel room until formalities are completed,” he said.
Filling of backlog vacancies of SC/ST
July 23, 2015 Last Updated at 00:20 IST
Filling up of vacancies, including backlog reserved vacancies, is a continuous process.
Government is aware that there are backlog reserved vacancies in various Departments / Ministries.
As per information received from Ministries / Departments, 48,034 backlog reserved vacancies for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes were filled up during the Special Recruitment Drive held for filling up of backlog reserved vacancies which concluded on 31.3.2012. As reported by various Departments/Ministries, 19,676 backlog reserved vacancies were also filled up during the period April, 2012 to December, 2014.
The Government constituted a Committee in July, 2013 under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to make an in depth analysis of the reasons for backlog of filling up of reserved vacancies and suggest measures to enhance the employability of reserved category candidates. Based on the Report submitted by the Committee, action points namely constitution of in-house committee to identify backlog reserved vacancies, to study the reasons for non-filling up of backlog reserved vacancies, review of educational qualifications, conducting Special Recruitment Drive and pre-recruitment training programmes, wherever required, have been finalized and communicated to the Ministries /Departments to make concerted and continuous effort to reduce the backlog reserved vacancies.
Since action is under process for filling up of backlog reserved vacancies, the question of action against officers for not filling up the backlog may not arise at present.
This was stated by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and Minister of State in the Prime Ministers Office, Dr. Jitendra Singh in a written reply to a question by Smt. Jharna Das Baidya in the Rajya Sabha today.
The Times Of India
Govt to focus on better nutrition among children
Jul 24, 2015, 12.04 PM IST
PATNA: Food and consumer protection minister Shyam Rajak said on Thursday the state government was committed to ensuring adequate levels of nutrition among children. He was speaking at a meet organized by the National Confederation of Dalit Organizations (NACDOR) on the Bihar Chambers of Commerce and Industries premises.
The meet on ‘Bihar Consultation on Nutrition’ was held to review the status of malnutrition in the state and also to present a report on the 20 rounds of social audits carried out by NACDOR across the state. The report titled ‘Bihar Nutrition Report Card’ was unveiled earlier in the morning jointly by Rajak and chairman of NACDOR Ashok Bharti. The report said 55.6% children in the state were found stunted in height. Cases of anaemia in the state were 8% more than the national average.
Taking cue from the report, Rajak took potshots at the NDA government by alleging that the share of states under MGNREGA had been brought down in addition to the drastic cut in expenditure on health in this year’s budget.
Dr Shakeel-ur-Rehman of the CHARMS contended that the policies framed over the last one year by the Union government had proved detrimental to the crusade against malnutrition. He suggested the issue of malnutrition. be linked with Food Security Act for its gradual elimination.
Fear and loathing in Periyar land
Fractious caste conflicts are no more the sole preserve of the Hindi heartland. It’s a growing concern in Tamil Nadu, a state that came of age with Periyar’s anti-caste movement.
It’s a longish drive to the top of the hill overlooking the small town of Tiruchengode in Namakkal district of western Tamil Nadu. Otherwise nondescript, the town is famous for the Arthanareeswarar Temple, located on the hilltop. The temple’s main idol is half-man, half-woman-Parvathi on the right half, Shiva on the left.
Arthanareeswarar, or part-woman, is supposed to represent man-woman equality. That, however, is just one form of inequity in the region. This year, the temple has hit the national headlines on at least two occasions for the wrong reasons. On June 23, a 21yearold engineering graduate named Gokulraj had gone there with a woman friend when he was abducted, allegedly by henchmen of a man named Yuvaraj, leader of a fringe group comprising people from the locally dominant caste.
The next day, Gokulraj’s body was found on the railway tracks in Pallipalayam, near neighbouring Erode. Locals say the accused beheaded the young man and threw the body on the tracks to make it appear like a suicide. Declared the main offender in the case, Yuvaraj was reported absconding even a month later, when this report was written. Yuvaraj is from the Gounder community, an intermediate caste dominant in the region. Gokulraj was a Dalit. His woman friend, a student of KSR College of Technology, from where Gokulraj had recently graduated, is from the Gounder community.
For weeks starting late last year, Tamil writer Perumal Murugan was hounded and later driven away fr om Tiruchengode by Hindutva and local caste outfits. They alleged that Murugan’s recent novel, Mathorubagan (One Part Woman), had demeaned the Arthanareeswarar and also the Gounder community. Several leaders from the community, including Yuvaraj, were allegedly involved in that episode. Gokulraj’s murder this summer brought back into the spotlight the killing of another Dalit youth, Ilavarasan, in 2012. His body too was thrown on the railway tracks. Ilavarasan’s offence: marrying a woman from the Vanniyar community-like the Gounders, technically a backward class, but a landowning and dominant community. The wedding led to caste violence in nearby Dharmapuri district.
Ironically, in an otherwise progressive state, which entered its teen years in independent India riding on anti-Brahmin and anti-upper caste agitations, violence against Dalit communities is not exactly a new phenomenon in Tamil Nadu. It has been prevalent in the northern and southern districts of the state since at least the late 1980s, although never coming under the spotlight.
If reports and allegations are any indication, the locale has now shifted to the relatively peaceful western Tamil Nadu, largely dominated by Gounders and Vanniyars. “They clearly want to intimidate us (Dalits), as a community,” Kalai Selvan, Gokulraj’s elder brother, tells India Today. A postgraduate in engineering, the 24-yearold says the “coldblooded murder” of Gokulraj is a warning of sorts to educated Dalit youths-against nursing aspirations to get ahead in life and having relationships with wo men from the dominant communities.
Kalai Selvan and a few others from Tiruchengode’s Dalit households refer to messages that appeared on social networking sites after Gokulraj’s killing. Posted by many youths with names prefixed by Kongu (a generic term referring to Gounders), they had vowed to reclaim caste pride and “show Dalits their rightful place” in society.
At nearly 20 per cent of Tamil Nadu’s population of 72.1 million as per the 2011 census, Dalits are not a pushover, numerically, in the state. But oppressed for centuries, they have never found a voice till date even in a state where Periyar led an anti-caste movement. Caste inequality, says A. Kathir, founder director of Evidence, a rights organisation headquartered in Madurai, is more acute, and yet more subtle, in the western belt of Tamil Nadu. Even among Dalits, he says, the Arunthathiyar community, for instance, has always been more silent, and thereby more subjugated.
“They have never protested against any injustice done to them. They live largely in the western belt, and that perhaps explains why untouchability practised in that region has never found a voice,” Kathir says. A Gounder woman from Namakkal illustrates this subjugation. She says people from the Arunthathiyar community in villages still follow the practice of touching the feet of a Gounder community member while offering condolences. The norm for other equivalent castes is to hold hands.
According to Devibharathi, a writer from Vellakoil, in neighbouring Erode district, untouchability has been present in the region for long now, but the level of violence has increased. “It is not uncommon to see a Dalit boy being beaten up by caste Hindus over a trifle,” he says. The apprehension is that this violence may be finding political sanction. “In one of his audio messages circulated on WhatsApp, Yuvaraj clearly states that whatever he did (allegedly killing Gokulraj) was for the larger good of the community. It has now become a trend to attack Dalits and thus consolidate the support of their community. S. Ramadoss of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) started this,” Stalin Rajangam, Dalit scholar and theoretician, claims.
In what could be deemed an inciting speech, Ramadoss is believed to have accused Ilavarasan of “luring caste Hindu women with sunglasses and jeans” following his murder. Thol. Thirumavalavan, leader of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), the predominant Dalit party in the state, says many caste outfits have taken a leaf out of Ramadoss’s book. “It has been a strategy of the PMK to advocate politics of Dalit hatred to consolidate caste support. The Gounders are merely following suit.”
He might not be very wide off the mark. As recently as 2012-13, Pongalur Manikandan, as the then leader of the fringe group Kongu Vellala Goundergal Peravai (KVGP), had led a passionate campaign against inter-caste marriages in the state’s western belt. Manikandan, however, tells india today that he was not against inter-caste marriages but only campaigned for those “affected” by such alliances. “Many young men led women astray and demanded money from the (women’s) families to part ways. My campaigns were against them,” Manikandan says. Having stepped down from his post in KVGP, Manikandan now leads a farmers’ movement that, he claims, transcends “all caste barriers and works for farmers from all communities”.
Thaniyarasu, a local Gounder leader and an MLA allied to the AIADMK, rubbishes allegations against his community. For him, issues such as Gokulraj’s murder and the assault on writers are handiworks of “external forces” out to discredit the administration. “Our community will resist such attempts and preserve the social harmony of western Tamil Nadu,” he says.
The Namakkal district administration has remained tight-lipped about the steps taken by them to tackle the rise in caste-related violence and is only saying that the authorities are holding meetings between the two communities to bring down tension. Having struggled day and night to bring up her two sons since her husband’s death a decade ago-and succeeding against odds in making both engineers-Gokulraj’s mother, Chitra, wishes such steps had come sooner.
How DNA tests can help Mumbai’s
Thursday, 23 July 2015 – 8:15pm IST | Agency: dna webdesk
DNA tests can protect children used for begging. But certainly not in the way that the Maharashtra government proposes. Dr Pravin Patkar responds to the recurring issue of the policy proposed by Maharashtra government.
The Government of Maharashtraproposes to carry out DNA tests onchildren used for begging and persons in whose custody these children are found. It claims that the procedure would conclusively reveal if the latter are the biological parents of the child or not. If they are found to be unrelated, the government proposes to trace the real parents through an online DNA database and thus, reunite the children with their families.
This is not the first time that the government has announced its intention to bring about such a policy. The proposed policy option needs to be properly understood as it is being announced repeatedly and may be taken up for formal approval.
Barring a few people who have raised their eyebrows over the idea that someone’s DNA report will be collected and stored by the government in its data bank, apparently there is not much objection to the idea per se. Considering the seriousness and rising number of cases of ‘missing and found but untraced’ children mostly belonging to certain weaker and vulnerable section of the society, as well as the technological superiority and indispensability of DNA matching, a vague objection to create a DNA data bank might not get much attention. Nonetheless, it may be stressed at the outset that DNA data being sensitive, must be handled carefully and responsibly.
At face value, the idea looks noble and appealing. But on closer inspection, it will be clear that the idea is vague and full of defects and gaps. What must be appreciated is the announcement of the State’s desire to do something about the issue of children used for begging, although in its current form, it is naïve, poorly conceptualised and based on incorrect presumptions.
Presumptions in the State’s design:
The policy option is based on many presumptions such as;
- Most children used at the signal posts for begging are trafficked.
- The person (often a young woman) taking the child around for begging is a trafficker/ kidnapper.
iii. If she is a mother then she is not a trafficker.
- Most of them are Indian children and adults.
- There is a complaint somewhere in the country about the child going missing.
- The real parents must have approached the local police station to file a complaint.
vii. The local police station must have filed an FIR as per the orders of the Supreme Court.
viii. The local police station would have carried out the DNA test of the complainant parents and uploaded the report on the website.
- The website has the technical capability to undertake data matching in all the states of India and South Asia.
- The complainant parents are eager to get the child back.
- It is alright to hand over the child back to the parents from whose custody the child might have already been trafficked in the past.
xii. The parents have not knowingly sold the child.
xiii. On receiving the child back, the parents will not sell the child again (and again and again).
xiv. The child (especially a little grown up) is keen to go back to and stay with its parents and in the first place has not run away from the parents not being able to tolerate starvation, deprivation and physical violence.
Any social worker experienced in the issues of anti human trafficking, child protection, violence against children and missing children in South Asia will vouch that all of these presumptions are grossly wrong and baseless.
Questions that remain unanswered by the proposal:
The proposal raises some unanswered questions such as
What if the DNA of the child and its custodian match? Will the state stop at that presuming that biological parents have a right to use their children for begging and the State is not mandated to protect those children from their own parents?
Is it required to first prove that the child does not
iii) What if the woman displaying and exposing the child at the signal posts is herself a victim of human trafficking and is operating under criminal force?
iv) Do all (or most) states in India and South Asia have a system of keeping biometric and DNA reports of the complainants?
v) If they do, is there a system of data sharing among the Indian states and the South Asian countries?
vi) Are the states in India and South Asia eager to get their children back to their states? Again, any social worker experienced in the fields of anti human trafficking, child protection, violence against children and missing children in India will answer these questions in the negative.
The information gaps
The proposal also points at an information gap at the Government of Maharashtra level. As a research consultant to Plan International on this issue and as a part of the regional exercise where the State, Civil Society Organisations, International Organisations and SAARC are working together to connect the data systems of Nepal (Childline), Bangladesh (DNet) and India (TrackChild) to address the regional issue of missing children, I strongly feel that the above proposal implies that the government is not aware of what is being promoted at the South Asian regional level by the governments and SAARC.
If the children have been abandoned, which is a fact in several cases, then there is no way the parents would approach a police station to file a missing complaint. If the family does not complain, there is no alternative way to identify a missing child.
The gap between missing children and the filing of complaints is phenomenal. After the January 17, 2013 and May 10, 2013 (Writ Petition (Civil) No. 75 of 2012 BBA Vs Union of India & Ors) Orders of Supreme Court on missing children, police stations are under pressure to register an FIR in every case of a missing complaint and start the investigation presuming a trafficking or kidnapping angle.
Police stations in South Asia are notorious for refusing to register an FIR in most crimes, so there is little hope to believe that it will be registered in the case of missing person complaints.
Reunion: Not always the answer
Although the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child 1989 and the Juvenile Justice Act of India give prime importance to the restoration of a child in his/her family as a matter of right, it is a lofty ultimate goal. It is also based upon an axiom that family is heaven for its members. A family is not a static phenomenon, it is undergoing constant transformation.
Families from where these children go ‘missing’ and join the rank of ‘Found but Untraced’ children living in the metropolises without any responsible adult protection and supervision are themselves the victims of displacement, uprootment, impoverishment, collective violence, economic depression and such other ever increasing factors. Many of these families are not in a position to provide for the basic survival of the child. In some cases, they look the other way when the child is being trafficked. At times, they sell their own children.
Therefore restoring a child to the family is not often a wise decision. The state and civil societies should be guided by the principle of the best interests of the child. Fortunately both, the UNCRC as well as the JJ Act, acknowledge and recommend this.
Many children get physically separated from their families as a result of an accumulated, unfavourable situation primarily resulting from maltreatment, deprivation, forced migration and consequent disintegration of the family. Such situations also fuel domestic violence against children and an episode of gross verbal or physical violence precipitates their running away from their families to unknown destinations. There is little desire in these children to go back. The families often are not in a position to provide for their basic necessities let alone for their developmental needs. In majority of the cases, reunion with the family is not the solution to the problem.
Even in cases where the children are actively trafficked, it is seen that the family is incapable of providing minimum protection and support to the child, thereby rendering the child vulnerable to getting trafficked. If the family continues to be ill-equipped to provide the required protection, the chances of the reunited child getting re-trafficked are almost 100%.
The proposal conveys that if the DNA reports do not match, then the government will take over the custody of the child from that person and try to locate the child’s real parents/ guardians for reunion or keep the child in shelter facilities in the state’s custody for long term care and protection. The intention looks good, although the path suggested is unnecessary.
As per the established practice in India where the natural parents/legal guardians of a child are found incapable of carrying out their parental responsibilities, the state takes over the parent-ship of the child unto itself with the force of law (the doctrine of parens patriae).
It is not at all necessary to prove (whether by DNA testing or otherwise) that the adult in whose custody the child is found is not the child’s natural parent/legal guardian. Day in and day out, the states of India (Maharashtra included) through legally constituted bodies like the Child Welfare Committee or Juvenile Justice Board under the Juvenile Justice Act have been doing that as a matter of routine. In short, when as an established practice, a child can be and is taken away from its lawful natural biological parents under the force of law, where is the need to conduct the DNA test and prove that the custodian is not the parent?
What if the DNA test shows that the woman who is using the child at the signal posts for begging purposes is the biological mother of the child? Does that mean the state shall allow her to continue using the child for begging? Of course not! As under the UN Convention 1989 as well as under the JJ Act the state is expected to act in the best interest of the child which may also mean taking over the custody of the child and placing the child with a fit person (preferably in a foster scheme) or fit institution (institutionalisation). Even in such a scenario, DNA testing becomes unnecessary.
A necessary database
I have in the past recommended and demanded ‘careful and responsible’ use of biometric data as well as DNA test reports to address the issue of ‘missing’ and ‘found but untraced’ children at the South Asian regional level. I also made a submission for this at a Global CSR Conclave of NASSCOM in the year 2010 where I was invited to speak on the issue of ‘Missing children and the role of software industry’.
My submissions were based on the following points:
i) In a situation where conventional parameters of identity like name, surname, height, weight, clothes, address as told by the complainants are unreliable and where the conventional physical identities like facial photograph are ever changing, especially in the case of children, the use of other biometric readings and DNA report becomes indispensable.
- ii) The amount of data that needs to be fed and matched being huge, use of computerised internet based data matching systems is indispensable.
iii) As the nature of the data is sensitive and as the non state actors do not have the locus standi to gather or disseminate it, the State must be the prime mover of the solution.
iv) As the issue is cross border in nature, the solution involves extra-territorial authority to ensure sustained coordination between India and the neighbouring countries, namely Nepal and Bangladesh, where the States must own the solution and be its prime movers.
The head of UID/Aadhar card scheme Nandan Nilekani was also a speaker at the event. In a plenary, I had expressed my suggestion to have the DNA of the children recorded and integrated in the UID data bank.
My suggestion was to start collecting the DNA reports of the children and their families initially belonging to the areas from where there are large scale complaints of missing children as well as to collect the same for the thousands of ‘Found but Untraced’ children who are living without parents, guardians, or any responsible adult protection in the most popular destination areas (metropolises like Mumbai). Although Nilekani instantly discarded my demand as very expensive, I was not convinced of his reasoning.
‘Found But Untraced’ Children
Having worked on the issue of human trafficking with a focus on South Asia for the last few decades, I have networked extensively with the anti human trafficking actors at various levels in some of these countries. The truth that we have observed is quite bitter. In many cases, the parents facilitate the trafficking of their children. There could be various explanations for this. Many communities are actively involved in facilitating the illegal migration, smuggling and trafficking of their own young ones. In such cases, the proposal of family reunion not only becomes irrelevant and impractical but also dangerous for the children.
Not only the children used for begging at the signal posts, but several other children are actually living without any responsible adult care, protection and supervision. They can be easily found in our cities and towns in garages, workshops, shops, eateries, informal factories, sweatshops, tourism places and in other hazardous workplaces. They are addressed by various terms like street children, child labour, missing children, abandoned children, trafficked children etc. It is highly unlikely that there would be a missing complaint registered in any police station about them.
I insist on using the term ‘Found but Untraced’ children for them instead of labelling them ‘missing’. Social intervention in the issue of missing children cannot start with missing children as it is not a positive category but a mere ‘complaint’. However ‘Found but Untraced’ children is a reality that we come across every day.
By setting up data banks that maintain comprehensive biometric data and software that enables massive data matching, it will be easy to find the biological parents and legal guardians of the ‘Found but Untraced’ children. I am not suggesting reunion as the only logical next stop. The best interest of the child may not lie in the child going back to the family.
‘Found but Untraced’ children are today living all over this country without any political identity, citizenship, passport, ration card. They have no document to prove who they are and that they exist. The issue is most ill attended today but has horrible implications.
A large responsibility of looking after them is currently carried out by civil society organisations. For every such child, the civil society organisation has to seek charitable support. Most of these children are living life on their own. Even if some of them are brought under the residential care of a CSO, the financial burden falls on the CSO and consequently the child gets nothing as a matter of right. Even when they are given vocational training, without any identity document to prove who they are, they can hardly move upwards in the job market and adult life. There is a high probability that most of these children actually belong to social categories like SC/ST/OBC/DNT/Nomadic tribes etc and hence are entitled to various services and schemes of the State under its positive discrimination policies. In absence of any proof of their identity, they are unable to avail of these reservations and programmes.
Once their identity is established, these children will be able to claim whatever little asset base they would have otherwise inherited. If they get what is rightfully theirs, then the children will rely less on charity and more on the State’s funds.
These children have a right to family name and political identity. Reunion or no reunion, with DNA based data matching, it will be possible to restore their identity to them. They should not be deprived of their social political identity merely because they belonged to a weak or incapable or irresponsible family. It has been my studied observation that in many cases of intra-country as well as cross-border trafficking, the families and the communities act hand in glove to deny any identification of the child, thereby foiling the efforts of the governments and CSOs of the destination states. In such cases, with the help of DNA reports, the identity of the child can still be established regardless of the inclination of the family, community and their own state.
While suggesting the use of DNA test, I have unfailingly qualified it by the terms ‘careful and responsible’ to qualify the use of DNA based data as I am aware that such highly sensitive data falling in the wrong hands can cause severe misuse. At the same time, the importance, indispensability and increasing need for DNA reports cannot be denied. Crime has become technically complex and dangerous and the protective measures to be taken against them in order to protect the citizens cannot be taken with the consent of individual members. A victim of crime caught in a dangerous situation is to be rescued and protected forthwith by the state and the civil society. Any delay in doing so could result in irreversible damage.
Strengthening existing protection mechanisms
Coming back to the proposal of the WCD Ministry of Maharashtra, DNA testing is not required to prove that the child used in begging does not belong to the custodian and thus to justify rescuing the child, even from its biological parents. The existing laws allow the state to do that without the DNA test report. The existing machineries like the CWC are aware and experienced enough to handle such situations. The government should not be very optimistic about the possibility and propriety of family reunion. Often even well-meaning families fail to protect their children. Strengthening family-based, community-based, school-based protection mechanisms is the appropriate recommendation.
The child’s consent
There are no two opinions that the children who are used for begging purposes are children in need of care and protection. It is the responsibility of the state and the civil society to act fast, yet sensitively and in their best interest. A careful and responsible use of the child’s DNA reports will immensely boost the positive intervention.
There is a misplaced suggestion that the consent of the victim/child should be secured before taking the DNA test. Clearly, the principle of consent is not understood properly. A victim of a complex crime like human trafficking, it has often been observed, is not free and competent to understand his/her situation or to express their consent correctly. The repercussions of many crimes termed as crimes against individuals are not necessarily confined to the individual.
They have repercussions to the society as well. Hence, the measures to be taken to protect the individuals cannot be conditional to the consent of the individual. When the victim is a child the issue of its consent becomes all the more irrelevant. The permission of their biological parents or legal guardians is also not necessary and should not be allowed to come in the way of removing the child from dangerous circumstances. Many children trafficked for the organised crime of begging are infants- even the newborns, stolen straight from the maternity homes. Are we going to wait for their consent?
Dr Pravin Patkar is co-founder/director – anti-trafficking organisation Prerana and adjunct professor at the Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham
News monitored By Girish Pant & AJEET