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Boy kills, labour ban blamed

Krishnagar, Oct. 16: A teenager, who started frequenting a gambling den after the newly-introduced child labour ban prevented him from working at his father’s shop, has shot dead another boy similarly unemployed.

The murder in Kalyani last night has put the spotlight on the child labour ban and its impact in the absence of rehabilitation. But experts cautioned that hasty conclusions should not be drawn and the reasons being cited for the murder are too simplistic.

Raghuram (name changed), who used to work in his father’s cycle repairing shop, whipped out a 9-mm pistol and fired at his friend, Abhinay Roy, 13, after a quarrel over gambling, police said. Abhinay used to do chores in his father’s tea stall.

Raghuram and Abhinay were told by their fathers not to work after labour officials visited their shops on October 8 and 9. While Abhinay left school after Class IV, Raghuram is a Class V dropout.

“If my son had been working in my shop, he would have been alive today. He had fallen into bad company. He used to be in front of my eyes in the shop. After he stopped working last week, I did not have control over his movements,” said Narayan, Abhinay’s father.

“The bullet hit Abhinay in his temple and he died on the spot. Raghuram is yet to tell us from where he found the gun. But we suspect he found it from some abandoned place where miscreants had hid it,” said Arnab Ghosh, sub-divisional police officer.

“Raghuram told us he did not know how to operate the pistol. He just pulled the trigger and the bullet hit Abhinay,” said Ghosh, adding: “We are investigating whether his statement is correct.”

The murder has prompted the Nadia administration to ask officials to proceed with caution on child labour. The state government had admitted that it does not have enough manpower to ensure that the “rescued” children go to schools.

District magistrate Omkar Singh Meena said it would be ensured that out-of-work children do not become anti-socials. “We will launch an awareness campaign. I have also asked officials to take children out of work in a phased manner so that they can be persuaded to go to school,” said Meena. He has called a meeting tomorrow to discuss the issue.

Sociologists feel that the government should handle the sensitive issue with care.

“It is imperative to bring all children to schools. If a boy is not guided properly, he is bound to stray,” said Samir Dasgupta, head of the sociology department at Kalyani University.

But others pointed out that the labour ban has come into effect only on October 10 and a child could not have been driven to bad company in such a short time.

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