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Schools warned on age forgery

The education department letter

Guwahati, Nov. 27: The Assam education department has warned of stern action against the authorities of government-run schools if they were found issuing age certificates without proper records.

The directorate of elementary education has issued an official communiqué to all the district elementary education officers and the deputy inspectors of schools on November 22 asking them to instruct all bock and circle-level officers and school authorities not to issue any age certificate without having proper records in school.

The letter mentioned that the age certificates would also have to be countersigned by a competent authority.

“Violation of this will be viewed seriously and action may be initiated against the erring officer/officers,” the communiqué said.

A copy of the communiqué was made available to The Telegraph today.

The warning was issued after the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) recently brought to the notice of the state government that a primary school in Kokrajhar district had issued an age certificate to a girl without having any records.

The NCPCR had also recommended to the state government that disciplinary action be taken against those who had issued the age certificate.

In pursuance of the NCPCR recommendation, the directorate of elementary education wrote to the director of education of Bodoland Territorial Council, asking him to inquire into the issuance of the certificate by the authorities of 789 Jaima Primary School in Korkrajhar district. It ordered disciplinary as well as legal action against the officers who were at fault.

The NCPCR wrote to the Assam government after a Delhi-based anti-trafficking NGO, Shakti Vahini, filed a complaint in August this year stating that bogus age certificates were being issued by a section of schools in Assam.

The NGO, in the letter, mentioned that they had rescued a minor girl with the help of police from Punjabi Bagh in Delhi in October last year.

The girl was trafficked by a placement agency and placed in the house at Punjabi Bagh since 2009.

“Her employer, however, produced a certificate issued by the Kokrajhar school as proof of her age. According to that certificate, she was an adult at the time of her rescue. As a result, her employer, against whom an FIR was registered, was acquitted,” the letter said.

An inquiry conducted by Shakti Vahini later revealed that the certificate, which was prepared by the principal of the Kokrajhar school, was forged.

“It is a matter of serious concern because such bogus certificates can be easily used by traffickers of minor girls from Assam to mislead the investigators as well as courts in order to evade punishment,” Rishi Kant, a senior member of Shakti Vahini, told this correspondent from Delhi.

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