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'Can a 4-month-old Child Protest?' Supreme Court Sees Red Over Infant’s Death at Shaheen Bagh

Mohammed Arif (R) and Nazia with one of their surviving children pose for photographs at their residence in Batla House, New Delhi, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. Arif and Nazia's infant son, whom they used to take to the Shaheen Bagh protests, reportedly died due to cold. (Image: PTI)

Mohammed Arif (R) and Nazia with one of their surviving children pose for photographs at their residence in Batla House, New Delhi, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. Arif and Nazia's infant son, whom they used to take to the Shaheen Bagh protests, reportedly died due to cold. (Image: PTI)

A four-month-old baby had passed away in his sleep on the night of January 30 after returning from Shaheen Bagh where the parents had taken him during the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and proposed implementation of NRC.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday fumed over the death of a four-month-old infant at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh during the anti-CAA protest, saying “children shouldn’t be treated badly in society”.

A four-month-old baby had passed away in his sleep on the night of January 30 after returning from Shaheen Bagh where the parents had taken him during the protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act and proposed implementation of the National Register of Citizens.

“Can a four-month-old go to protest?” the court asked as the lawyers for protesting mothers appeared in court.

The SC took notice of the issue when Zen Gunratan Sadavarte, a recipient of the 2019 Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) National Bravery Award, said in a letter to the CJI's office that the parents of the baby and the organisers of the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh had "failed" to protect the rights of the kid, resulting in his death.

Sadavarte, a student of Class 7 from Mumbai, has also alleged that the protesters at Shaheen Bagh include infants and children, who are exposed to conditions unfavourable to them, which is violation of their rights.

"The Shaheen Bagh protesters at New Delhi, include women, senior citizens, newborns and children, ignoring the fact that new born babies need a lot of attention and care as they cannot express their pains in particulars thereafter also ignoring the conditions unfavourable to the children, they are brought to the protest place which is violative of their child rights and natural justice," the letter said.

It also alleged that the police failed in stopping children from participating in such agitations harmful to their health. It expressed surprise over the fact that even the death certificate of the 4-month-old does not mention the cause of death.

"A baby has died. We are taking suo motu cognisance of this letter," CJI Bobde said as SG Tushar Mehta called the incident "unfortunate".


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