The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
New Delhi

Date: 16th July, 2010

Subject: Upholding Right to Education: End Occupation of Schools in Jharkhand by CRPF forces.

Dear Ms. Shantha Sinha,

On April 1st, 2010 India joined the league of over 130 countries which have legal guarantees to provide free and compulsory education to their children. As the country rejoices this significant step towards ensuring the rights of our children and their future the depth and truth behind this claim is seriously questioned when in the same month military occupation of schools in the state of Jharkhand take place under the guise of Operation Green Hunt.

As of now over 50 school buildings (address and name as well as testimonies from school principals on the nature of occupation attached) in Jharkhand have been taken over by CRPF on a permanent basis and 43 school buildings have been taken over on an off-and-on basis.  The Gram Sabha’s consent was not even sought. If schools do not function, the mid-day meal also is not given to children. The sad fact is the mid-day meal is the only ‘full meal’ most children get to eat. Apart from this is the fact that even if the school is not occupied by the para-military forces, their very presence in the vicinity and their brutal behaviour with people has created a fearful atmosphere in the village preventing children from going to school.

In November 2009, the Jharkhand High Court, in response to a petition filed by PUCL-Ranchi, ordered the CRPF to vacate all school buildings within six months. Six months have passed, but the High Court order has not been complied with. On 17 May 2010, CRPF has approached the High Court and asked for an extension of another six months, to which the courts have agreed. The point to ponder is what happens to the children who have been deprived of their school education first for six months, now for another six months? This when the country is touting its commitment to the Right to Education is nothing but hypocrisy.

We solicit your help to make the necessary inquiry into the nature of these occupations and to put pressure on the powers that be to demilitarize schools and declare them as peace zones. We have already seen the dire consequences of military occupation of schools in countries like Nepal where young people took up arms when all option of democratic participation where closed to them. Schools are the training ground for democracy and non-violence to make them into military cantonment promoting violence as the only solution to the conflict at hand will be condemning a generation of children and dehumanizing them as they become child soldiers.

Civil society groups have been able to compile the list of schools but where denied photographic evidence of this grave violation of the rights of children of the country. To deny schooling and safe space to the children of this region is to send them into the arms of violence and destitution. It is with great urgency and intensity that we the concern citizens of India call upon the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights to uphold its constitutional and legal duty which states that the Commission shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely;

1. Examine and review the safeguards provided by or under any law for the time being in force for the protection of child rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation

2. Present to the Central Government, annually and at such other intervals, as the Commission may deem fit, Reports upon the working of those safeguards

3. Inquire into violation of child rights and recommend initiation of proceedings in such cases

4. Examine all factors that inhibit the enjoyment of rights of children affected by terrorism, communal violence, riots, natural disasters, domestic violence, HIV/ AIDS, trafficking, maltreatment, torture and exploitation, pornography, and prostitution and recommend appropriate remedial measures

5. Look into matters relating to children in need of special care and protection, including children in distress, marginalised and disadvantaged children, children in conflict with law, juveniles, children without family and children of prisoners and recommend appropriate remedial measures

6. Spread child rights literacy among various sections of society and promote awareness of the safeguards available for protection of these rights through publications, media, seminars and other available means

7. Inquire into complaints and take sup moto notice of matters related to:

i. Deprivation and violation of child rights

ii. Non implementation of laws providing for protection and development of children

iii. Non compliance of policy decisions, guidelines or instructions aimed at mitigating hardships to and ensuring welfare of the children and to provide relief to such children or take up the issues arising out of such matters with appropriate authorities

Such other functions as it may consider necessary for the promotion of child rights and any other matter incidental to the above functions.

We hope that keeping with your mandate of protecting our future generation from the throngs of violence and war you will pay heed to the warning signs and stem this tide early enough before to many young people and children are lost to the barrel of guns and hatred.

Calling you to action.
With deep Hope

Dr. Mohini Giri
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Ms. Razia Ismail Abassi
Fr James Toppo

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