The National Human Rights Commission has sent a notice to the Rajasthan government over reports that many families in Banswara district are allegedly using their children as a pawn to get money for food.
The NHRC Friday observed that the contents of the news report, if true, raise serious issue of violation of human rights of the innocent young children, who instead of getting proper education and upbringing, have been given to the custody of unknown people in lieu of money.
The NHRC in a statement said, "It has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report that there are several villages in Banswara district of the state of Rajasthan in which more than 500 families were found to have used their children as pawn in exchange of Rs 1,500-2,000 from the Gadaria (shepherd) community to get food."
The media report has also carried the photographs of children, aged 8 to 12 years, who had been pledged for money.
"The commission has issued a notice to the chief secretary, the government of Rajasthan calling for a detailed report in the matter within six weeks," it said.
The NHRC has also asked the state government to inform about the status of implementation of flagship programmes announced and being run by the Centre and the state government in Rajasthan.
"The authorities are expected to identify all the victim children and to take steps to reunite them with their families and ensure all basic amenities, including food and education, to the children of the aggrieved families. The state government is also expected to conduct a survey to check if such practice is prevailing in other districts of the state," it said.
According to the media report, carried Thursday, the shepherds put them to the work of cattle grazing.
Chundai, Bor Talab and Memkhor areas in the district of Banswara and Bawdi Kheda, Limbodi and Ambaghati areas falling under Pratapgarh district are the worst affected, it added.
It is also mentioned in the news report that government-run schemes like MGNREGA and Bhamashah have "never been implemented" in these areas, the NHRC statement said.
Issuing the notice, the commission has observed that the Right to Food is the basic human right and it is aware of the fact that the central government has introduced several schemes to ensure that poor citizens, particularly in the villages, do not die due to starvation.
The commission has further observed that apparently the state has "failed in implementation" of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act of 2009, which mandates free and compulsory education to all children aged 6-14.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)