The Maharashtra State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MSCPCR) has written to the Election Commission of India demanding that children be not 'used' for election purposes.
In a letter, dated March 24, signed by AN Tripathi, secretary, MSCPCR, it has said: "It has been appearing in newspapers that political parties are using children during road shows, door-to-door campaigns and other purposes. Children wearing the mask of some prominent leaders are also being paraded during election meetings." The letter was sent to the election commission after a video showing BJP's Rajkot candidate, Mohan Kundariya, walking over schoolchildren at an event went viral on the internet.
Explaining the need to prohibit children from participating in events related to the election, the commission observes: "Children have not attained sufficient maturity to understand or judge the nature and consequences of their conduct, therefore using them even with their consent is against the law of the land."
According to the commission, any election-related work can harm the mental and physical health of a child, which amounts to violation of child rights and attracts penal provisions under the Juvenile Justice Act and the Indian Penal Code.
Child rights commission chairman Ujjwal Ukey said: "Often children can be seen participating in election rallies, shouting slogans and waving flags. This is a violation of child rights. So, no one under 18 must be used for any election-related activities."
The commission has asked the election commission to issue necessary instructions to the authorities concerned prohibiting such measures to ensure the safety of the child.