Regulate the School Transport

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Call it an overstatement, the demeaning silence maintained by our social agents over the tragic accident at Thoubal Leishangthem on July 3 in which an eight year old child met his last, with five other children critically injured; who are still fighting for their lives in the hospital, is utterly shameful. This is not to suggest for an impulsive protest demonstrations on the streets against the driver or the owner of the truck. The truck had a head-on collision with the van ferrying school children on that fateful day of the accident. For one, the civil voluntary organisations, which include the students’ organisations except for one or two, have failed to voice their concern regarding the safety of the school children. Civil organisations in the State with established credibility, which are known for their swiftness in responding against any violation of human rights, have been strangely calm when the right to life of our children is being transgressed. Clearly enough, negligence of safety guidelines was the cause of the accident. The Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights has rather been a toothless tiger on this matter as well. IFP had to literally extract opinion from the Commission in the aftermath of the accident. It was only when IFP knocked at the Commission’s door that the Chairperson had to react on the matter. If not for the intervention, the Commission would also have remained silent; resting on the fact that their job was long accomplished, as the transportation guidelines on the safety of the children were already issued in 2013. The Commission may well pass on the buck to the district Child Welfare Committees that it is their prerogative to take initiative on the implementation of the guidelines. No doubt, this is the everydayness of the State and how its machineries work with mutual dissonance. Given the scenario, the primacy of the civil organisation on an issue that involves the safety of the children is immediately called for. Two, the reason for silence by the political class is vividly written on the wall. They have little time to think for the children. Most of them are now deeply immersed in the lustful rush for power, of what they called a ‘reshuffle’ in the cabinet of the present ministry. What is in fact needed is a reshuffle of their outlook towards the plight of the people, more particularly of the children – the attention they deserve for a safe environment. The ceremonial visit by the Chief Minister or other VIPs to the hospital might have garnered a front-page space on the newspapers that too after the parents of the injured children protested on the streets, in front of the CM’s bungalow. Those parents who are still under the trauma should have been given immediate support by one and all. Ironically, they had to air their helplessness with indignity on the streets instead of attending their children in the hospital. It is high time for the authorities to check the schools and their transport systems to strictly act on them if they are found flouting the guidelines. Most probably, the school authorities could shy away from the responsibility, on the ground that transportations are in the hands of the private transporters. That it is beyond the control of the schools. Let it be known that the school authorities’ negligence with regards to the safety of children is a criminal negligence. They are obliged to follow the guidelines given by the Supreme Court. And this is what Nelson Mandela had once said, “Safety and security don’t just happen; they are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear …There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Leader Writer: Senate Kh

 

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