New Delhi: It is almost two weeks since two-and-a-half-year-old Utkarsh was almost killed due to the insensitivity of his play school. Even after the matter was brought to the attention of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), police is yet to take any action in the case.
Utkarsh struggled with his life for almost two days after he mistakenly consumed some volatile substance at his playgroup school in Delhi's Janakpuri. His school dumped him instead of admitting him to a hospital despite being in a critical condition. His mother was in for a shock when she saw him.
"At around 3.45 pm when I reached the school to take my child, he was brought to me in a very bad condition," recalls Utkasrsh's mother Pushpa Singhwal.
Little Utkarsh is slowly recovering from his traumatic experience but two weeks later, no action has been taken against the school authorities despite an FIR. The principal has kept the school shut since the incident. But the painful reality this incident has highlighted is that of an absolute lack of laws governing playschools for children under the age of 6.
There is no law protecting students under 6 years in schools. In February 2008, the Delhi High Court said that the government of Delhi must regulate all play schools in the capital. Delhi government was ordered to bring all play schools under ambit of the Delhi Education Act within 6 months.
However, no action has been taken so far in this regard.
Child right activists and lawyers say they have been battling for years to ensure a safer system for preparatory school, but in vain. "Government should go for sealing all these schools, this is what HC has given power. In fact not power, they said that they have both the power and duty and directions have been very clear that they under their own powers can close and seal these schools but govt don't want to do anything. That's the whole problem," says Ashok Agarwal, lawyer, child rights activist.
After CNN-IBN highlighted Utkarsh's story, the NCPCR decided to write a letter to the Women and Child Development Ministry to ensure policy action. "There is absolutely no regulatory framework for the pre-school institutions like nursery etc. This is indeed a fact," said Kushal Singh, NCPCR Chairperson.
Safety of students in schools across the country remains a concern. Whether it is the case of sexual assault of a 6-year-old child in Bangalore or a teacher brutally assaulting a visually challenged child in Hyderabad, the lack of sufficient laws has always costed these little ones dearly.