-By Shweta Raj Kanwar
The most luxurious possession, the richest treasure anybody has, is his personal dignity”- Jackie Robinson.
Technological advancement truly has no barriers and this lack of barriers and limitations has often proved to be threatening for the ones involved in it. Many cases of suicidal attempts as well as homicide have come to light under precarious instances of a person’s dignity being outraged on social media platforms. And not only adults but innocent children are the worst victims as people, who do not seem to draw a line between MEDIA and SOCIAL MEDIA, in their attempt to become saviours of society and seekers of justice forget the ethics of proper information dissemination.
A similar case erupted in Assam in 2017 when a teacher of Model High School in Assam’s Hailakandi district was alleged to have taken obscene pictures of himself with a minor student inside the classroom and then posted them online. What’s more shocking is that the teacher could be seen posing with the girl with a blackboard in the background, raising questions over the role of the school authorities. The incident reportedly took place in a town named Katlicherra.
As per a report that appeared in Guwahati’s local news channel Dy365, the “teacher” was earlier charged in a similar incident where he was punished by an angry mob for molesting some other woman. The incident received wide publicity after a person identified as Nazir Muhammed on Facebook posted the defaming pictures of the teacher with the child in an uncomfortable set up, thereby exposing the victim’s identity and outraging her modesty.
In response to this, Miguel Das Queah, a child rights activist from Assam and founder of UTSAH- Universal Team for Social Action and Help had lodged a strong-worded complaint on August 3 with the Assam State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) requesting:
1) Identification and stringent Action against the School Teacher under relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012(POCSO)
2) Action against Nazir Muhammed for violating Section 23 (POCSO 2012) and Section 74 (JJ Act 2015) by publishing the face of the child(without blurring) on social media(Facebook) citing that such an irresponsible action may lead to the lowering of the dignity of the child (who is in need of care and protection) and endangers the welfare of the child.
Reacting to UTSAH’s initiative, the Hailakandi Police registered a suo motto case on August 5 and arrested the teacher who clicked abusive pictures with a minor student, Lala Police Station Case 244/17. The picture was under unrestrained circulation on Facebook since last week. SP Hailakandi has assured strict punishment to. The CID Assam has also taken into cognizance this matter and the DIG CID has informed that all action under POCSO will be initiated against the teacher.
However, an important point to be noted in this regard is that although the perpetrator may or may not be duly punished the future of the child who has been molested has been tainted to an extent that she might never be able to recover from the trauma.
While Speaking to TNT- the Northeast Today, Miguel Das Queah, a child rights activist from Assam says, “The pictures circulated in social media give us a hint that the child has already gone through a lot of abuse and it puts the welfare of the child at stake”.
In a recent incident that took place on March 24, 2018, an 11-year-old class five student was brutally gang raped and later burnt to death by the perpetrators. Although the main accused in this case has been arrested, the incident raises a serious question on the rights of not only women but more so, the children that is openly being flouted in Assam. This is really not the 1st time that such an instance has occurred in the state. even the NCRB ranks Assam first in terms of crime against women and children in Northeasts India. In such prevailing conditions, who is the custodian of the rights of a child?
On being asked as to what could be the reason behind the society’s institutional failure to contain the repeated trampling of child rights, Miguel cited the following as the main reasons-
-The inherent idea of children being objects of control or properties of adults inside home as well as schools still manifests itself in the minds of people. And this plays an important role in the violation of child rights.
However now, children as entities have all rights and adults are seen only as custodians and protectors of children’s rights in manner that their rights stands fulfilled under all costs. But, an important fact to be noted in this regard is that this perspective has not gotten into the people’s mind.
-Children are immature by reason of their age and hence their cognitive understanding of events is not as advanced as adults. Hence the concept of Power Dynamics comes into play here causing the sabotage of children’s rights.
-Despite the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child and its detailed emphasis on Child rights and punishments pertaining to violation of the same, certain institutions such as schools and even families do not possess adequate information regarding the same.
-Again, an important point to be mentioned in this regard is the absence of stringent punishment towards offenders of child rights that further escalates the number of instances such as the one cited above.
In a recent case, UTSAH was also involved in filing an FIR against four teachers of the Bamunimaidam Sarkari Nimna Buniyadi Vidyalay(under SSA) in Assam for repeated use of corporal punishment on children inside the school premises. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) took immediate cognizance of the complaint and directed the Commissioner and Secretary (Elementary Education), Government of Assam to take necessary action and asked them to submit their report to the Commission within 15 days. The Commissioner and Secretary(Elementary Education) Government of Assam, immediately wrote to the Deputy Commissioner (Kamrup-M) to take action and submit report to the Department within 7 days in this regard.
Since children do not have a voice of their own, they remain at the so-called mercy of adults to fight for their justice. In this regard, people like Miguel Das Queah and others of course act as custodians of these innocent children whose rights are being openly violated by irresponsible persons in the name of ‘Justice’!
The writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
DISCLAIMER: The opinion expressed in the article is the writer’s own and TNT-The Northeast Today may not subscribe to the same views.