Though it is about two years since the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has been moved over the unexplained death of two child rag-pickers in Delhi, nothing is known even today as to how they had met their watery grave.
Supreme Court advocate and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy had on April 19, 2010 told the NHRC in his complaint that three children, Rubiyan, (8), Arjun (11) and Sonu were eking out livelihood as rag-pickers. They were pushed into an open sewer which resulted in the death of Rubiyan and Arjun. The local police were trying to clear this murder case as an accident, the complainant alleged. He sought intervention of the NHRC for an independent investigation and compensation to the family members of the deceased children and to the surviving child Sonu.
Responding to a notice of the NHRC, Additional Commissioner of Police, Vigilance, Delhi has sent in a report stating that this incident had taken place on April 16, 2010, and that an FIR No. 142/10 u/s 304 A IPC was registered in this regard at Mourya police station.
The NHRC also received another report dated April 4, 2012 from the Deputy Commissioner of Police, North West district, Delhi, saying that the enquiry EE (SDW)-IX has revealed that it was normally not possible for children to fall accidentally into the sewer as the whole area is well protected with a 5-foot high boundary wall. A child cannot enter on his own in normal circumstances. The report further said that Shri Niwas, JE (E&M), was in charge of the area at the time and has also been examined in the case. Further investigation is in progress and will be finalised soon. So far no accused has been identified or arrested in this case. The report further says there is no foul play in the incident and a cancellation report in the case was filed on June 11 this year. After considering the report submitted by the State authorities, the NHRC asked the petitioner to submit his comments over the issue.
To this, Radhakanta in his rejoinder pointed out that the report of the DCP said, “A child cannot enter on its own or accidentally fall into it in normal circumstances. The area is well protected with boundary wall with broken glasses embedded on top.” However, it is silent as to why and how the three children entered inside, Radhakanta argued. The casual approach of the government towards children who are working as rag-pickers has raised eyebrows. He sought serious consideration of the case and an effort to rehabilitate all the child rag-pickers in Delhi.