BENGALURU: The Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) on Thursday admonished the Bidar police for “violating” child rights and creating “an atmosphere of fear (in Shaheen Primary & High School) by sending police officers, some of whom are in uniform to question school children... Some children have stopped coming to school and some of them have fallen sick out of fear.”
The Commission on Thursday wrote to the Superintendent of Police (SP) and the Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Bidar. The latter is also the Chairman of the District Child Protection Unit.
The KSCPCR has made its observation based on the report of Commission member Dr Jayashree, who had visited the school on Wednesday and had interacted with students, parents and school staff, the report of Bidar SP, media and social media reports.
The Commission has come down heavily on the police for questioning children in such a hurried manner, and has asked the investigating officer (IO) to “stop inquiry of school children immediately.”
The KSCPCR has criticised the police for placing a nine-year-old girl, whose mother Nazbunissa was arrested along with the school headmistress Fareeda Begum under sedition charges, in a neighbour’s care. Nazbunissa is a single parent.
“This is a clear violation of child rights. The Commission has taken a serious note of this. Who will be responsible if the child is affected mentally or physically? Handing over a child in a neighbour’s care without obtaining the permission of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) is a violation of the Juvenile Justice Act. Separating the child from her mother and delaying court trial is also a violation of law,” KSCCPCR chairperson Father Anthony Sebastian has stated in the letter, a copy of which has been marked to the Director-General & Inspector General of Police.
The child rights body has directed the IO to draw the attention of the court to the plight of the child for a speedy trial and immediately provide legal aid to her mother in the interest of the child.
“The child should be immediately produced before the CWC,” the KSCPCR has maintained while asking the SP to do an impartial probe and submit report to the Commission in three days time.
On January 21, a play on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and National Register of Citizens (NRC) was staged in Shaheen school by students of Classes 4, 5 and 6.
The Bidar New Town police had registered an FIR after Nilesh Rakshala - a social activist - lodged a complaint against the school management on January 26.
He had accused the school management of sedition and insulting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The police on January 29 arrested Fareeda Begum and Nazbunissa over sedition charges.
The Bidar District and Sessions Court on Wednesday decided to hear a bail petition of the two women on February 11.