Vehicle carrying school kids vandalised: Child Rights' Commission summons Bimal Gurung

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Darjeeling, September 15, 2017: The Bimal Gurung led agitation hit a new crescendo with a vehicle carrying school children vandalized in Kalimpong on Friday. The West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights has taken suo-moto cognizance of the incident and has summoned Gurung on October 10 to be present before the Commission in Kolkata.

Vehicle carrying school children vandali

The notice bearing Memo No. 1245/WBCPCR/IIC-C/S/DJ-95/2017 dated Sept 15, 2017 to Gurung stated that on Friday a television channel telecasted the incident which shows that GJM supporters were ransacking the school-children-carrying-car which is a repeat offence by the GJM.

"It is gross violation of child rights. This is a repeat offence since you have violated the rights of children earlier. Hence you are hereby asked to be present in person before the bench on October 10, 2017 at 2pm."

The notice stated that if he fails to comply then he will be liable to all legal consequences of ignoring directions of a Lawful Authority of competent jurisdiction. The notice is signed by Chairperson, WBCPCR.

The notice also mentions that earlier on 29.6.2017 and on 3.7.2017 the GJM had organized political rallies using children during school hours for which the commission had summoned Gurung.

As Gurung had not appeared on the previous date, on 17.08.17 the Commission had issued a recommendation to the Director General of Police, West Bengal; Secretary, School Education Department; Secretary, Department of Women Development, Child development and Social Welfare Department, to draw criminal proceedings against him. Gurung has recently gone underground. The West Bengal CID has issued a lookout notice for him.

Incidentally on Thursday, a cornered Gurung, in a threat laced audio clip from an undisclosed location had asked his supporters to clamp the ongoing indefinite bandh stringently from Friday and foil any attempt by the Government to open up offices and schools.

Gurung's message was that one year of loss in education in lieu of a better future is worth the sacrifice. "Let us not have to force the schools and offices shut. The Government of West Bengal will be to blame for any untoward incident" threatened Gurung. The day after Gurung's directive to his supporters, in Kalimpong a vehicle carrying school students stopped and attacked by picketers.

A group of students of a renowned school in Kalimpong were being taken to the Hospital for check up when the vehicle was stopped by picketers in Dambar Chowk. Stones were pelted on the vehicle smashing a window. A large police contingent arrived at the scene. The traumatized students were asked to come out of the vehicle and escorted to a safer location.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Jaynarayan Patel and Justice Ashim Kumar Roy of the Calcutta High Court in September 2011 had stated that students as well as children are being used as "captive audience" in the political rallies. "So not only the students, all children should be protected under the legal provisions of Juvenile Justice Act... They should not be allowed to be roped in for any political rallies even during the holidays or Saturdays and Sundays" the bench had stated. A similar directive has been given by the NCPCR also.

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