Plea for child shelter promise in Bengal poll manifestoes
The North Bengal Child Rights Network — a joint forum of NGOs from eight districts of the region working on child rights — has appealed to all political parties to include establishment of a children shelter in the region in their respective election manifestoes.
NBCRN which was formed in 2013 is a platform of 17 NGOs.
“There are a total of 17 NGOs which are engaged in rescuing or protecting children across north Bengal. We have appealed to all leading political parties to mention in their election manifestoes the need for establishing asylum homes in the districts of the region,” Sudeep Bomzan, the convener of the network, said.
Social workers claim that rescued children who needed to be sent to shelters had to be taken to Behrampore in south Bengal, about 350km from Siliguri, because of lack of such facilities in the north.
“The nearest home is at Behrampore and taking them that far is an arduous task at times,” said Amos Tshering, a member of the network.
The representatives claimed there were a few private rehabilitation centres operational in Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Kalimpong. Sources said there were 189 children presently staying at those centres. “Also, these homes are mostly running as vocational training centres for the underprivileged or destitute children,” said another member.
According to Tezkumar Thapa, another member, a 2017-18 survey by the labour department suggests there are 1,500 child labourers in Darjeeling district alone.
A large number of them work at tea stalls and eateries.
“We want the party that forms the government to work on children’s issues with the importance it deserves. We appeal to our political leaders to make the region child labour-free and also ensure proper functioning of child labour task force,” said Thapa.