25 Jul 2022

'Every child is also an individual': Rights Panel on Kerala Moral Policing

The public must be aware that every child is also an individual who has a right to his mental and physical development, the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Kerala's Palakkad district said on Monday, citing a recent incident of moral policing in which school children were attacked. at the bus stop.
CWC Palakkad chairman M V Mohanan told the TV channel that "the general public is yet to come to the realization" that every child, irrespective of their age, is not just a child but also an individual who has a right to their mental and physical development.

"We have to create awareness among people about it," he said.

Referring to the recent incident of morality police at Mannarkkad bus stand not far away, he said that a report has been sought from the District Child Welfare Officer, who has also been directed to ensure that the assaulted children are given necessary medical treatment and counseling, if required.

The District Legal Services Authority (DLSA) will provide them with all the legal assistance they need to pursue the case further, Mohanan said.

On whether there was any misconduct on the part of the police in the matter, he said that by the time the CWC intervened, the police had already progressed properly in the investigation.

The parents of the attacked children recently claimed that the police initially tried to settle the matter between the two parties.

Mohanan said that according to the report received from the police, all the accused have been arrested and they suspect the involvement of another person whom they were investigating. He assured that the CWC would continue to follow up the matter with the police.

Regarding the safety of the attacked children who have to go to school and return through the area, Mohanan said that once the CWC receives a written request for the care and protection of the attacked children and other children, the committee will step in to ensure that necessary assistance is provided, including police protection.

"We're definitely going to hit it, there's no doubt about that," he said.

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A group of school children, including girls, were molested and beaten up at Mannarkkad bus stand near here last Friday while they were waiting for a bus to return home.

"We were a group of boys and girls waiting at the bus stop. Our headmaster was with us. Suddenly one person came and abused a girl from our group. When we interrogated them, other locals joined him and started beating us.

"This is not the first incident. Locals always make a problem when they see boys and girls together," a student told the media after the incident.

A senior police official told PTI that a case has been registered under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including 341 (wrongful restraint of liberty), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), and 294 B ( using obscene words in or near any public place).
Two people were arrested Saturday, police said.

The Students Federation of India (SFI), the student wing of the CPI(M), protested the incident and marched to the bus stand where they were sitting, demanding action against the culprits.

The mother of the assaulted boy told the media that after beating the children, the assailants forced them to board the bus and asked them to leave the place.

"Around 5:30, my child called me that a couple of people attacked them while they were waiting at the bus stop. When I asked, my son told me that his chest and body hurt. Who gave them the authority to hit children?" she said.

Students told the media that the locals always created a problem when boys and girls walked to the bus stop together or stood together. Police said they took the students' statements and examined the CCTV footage of nearby shops to identify the other culprits.

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