The National Commission for protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has written to the Election Commission, asking it to carry out an inquiry and initiate necessary action against the Congress and Rahul Gandhi for allowing children to take part in its political rally, 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'. NCPCR chief Priyank Kanungo said that Gandhi was “misusing” children and “political tools”.
In a letter sent to Chief Election Commission Rajiv Kumar, Kanungo said that the NCPCR received a complaint on Monday which alleged that Gandhi, the Indian National Congress, and its children department ‘Jawahar Bal Manch’ were “targeting children with political intentions” and was involving them in political activities as part of its mass contact programme, 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'.
“... since its inception, many disturbing images and videos have been circulating on social media wherein it can be seen that children are being targeted and are made to participate in this campaign with a political agenda under the slogan ‘Bharat Jodo Bacche Jodo’. It is alleged in the complaint that the children participating in the campaign were seen holding Indian National Congress party flags and shouting political slogans,” Kanungo’s complaint read.
He further alleged that as part of the campaign, the 'Jawahar Bal Manch' was carrying out the ‘Bharat Jodo Bachche Jodo’ campaign and that Gandhi was visiting schools, interacting with minor students and making them participate in political campaigns. And that, as per the Congress’ website, the ‘Jawahar Bal Manch’ is an internal department formed to target children between the age group of 7 to 18 years.
He added that as per section 13(1)(j) of the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act 2005, this is a violation of child rights. “... use of children as props to fulfil political agenda is child abuse which can have a severe long term impact on their mental health and is against Article 21 of the lndian Constitution,” the complaint read.