The NHRC has asked the Tamil Nadu Police to lodge a case against unidentified persons who allegedly forced some children to pierce their cheeks with steel rods as part of a ritual for the recovery of former chief minister J Jayalalilthaa.
From the material available on record, including photographs, it is apparent that the children, about 20 of them, were very little and innocent and “their cheeks were forcibly pierced” with 2m long rods, the commission said.
The rights body has also issued a notice to the principal secretary (Home) of the state government to submit a report, within four weeks, on the steps being taken to stop such rituals.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today said that it has asked the Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), North Chennai, to register a case under sections 326/341/34/120B of IPC and section 23 of Juvenile Justice Act.
“The officer has also been asked to inform within four weeks about the disciplinary action taken against the erring police officials, who were, admittedly, present at the site and did nothing to stop the criminal act,” the rights panel said.
The commission’s directions have come after the Commissioner of Police, Greater Chennai, confirmed that such an incident had happened on October 3 last year. “As part of a ceremony, the children were made to walk from Murgan Temple, R K Nagar to Seniamman Temple, Manikondu, Tondiarpet by the supporters of AIADMK. The commission, acting on a complaint into the allegations, had called for a report from the authorities concerned on November 7,” it said in a statement.
A photograph showed that the children were made to wear a cap bearing the image of Jayalalithaa and a slogan – ‘long live Amma’. One girl is seen caught by some persons for the purpose of piercing her cheeks. The incident makes it a clear case of violation of human rights of children, the NHRC said.
“The Commissioner of Police, Greater Chennai, in his report, confirming the incident, had said that the children participated in the event with the approval of their parents and were not forced to do so.
However, he had accepted that the incident was a gross violation of child rights and that the police personnel, who attended the bandobast duty on October 3, 2016 in connection with the event had been severely warned.
“He assured that if any such incident is reported in future, action will be taken under the relevant provisions of law against the guilty,” the commission said.
The NHRC observed that it failed to understand how the consent of parents, or that of the children for the ritual, can justify the criminal act of piercing children’s cheeks with steel rods.
“Admittedly, the police officials, present at the site of the incident did nothing to stop it. Therefore, a simple warning to the erring police personnel is abysmal considering the gravity of the incident,” the commission observed.