It was a big change in attitude and a welcome one when homeless children who sell goods on the streets of Sarojini Nagar market stood in front of three police officers confidently.
On Children’s Day, the children who live in tents under the Safdarjung Flyover, interacted with police officers and discussed their problems with the uniformed men.
“The children go to school in the morning and work in the evenings. They often face harassment from police officers on duty in the market. We wanted to give both a chance to put forward their views and arrive at a consensus,” said Palvinder Singh, member, PRERNA, an NGO that works with the homeless in the city.
While most children complained that police officers threatened them and did not let them sell goods, the officers said that children partake in drug addiction and harassment of shoppers. “A lot of children who sell small items in the market are into drugs, especially fluid. Since they are young, it is our responsibility to ensure that they don’t acquire bad habits,” said one of the three police officials at the event.
Earlier in the day, more than 100 students held a demonstration at ITO demanding that the Right to Education Act be implemented in its true spirit.
The students celebrated Children’s Day by demanding clean drinking water, cleaner toilets, table and chairs to sit, adequate teachers etc. in the schools.
The students also collected more than 4,000 signatures on postcards addressed to the chief minister, Sheila Dikshit, requesting for formation of School Management Committees (SMC) in government schools. It was bringing greater participation of parents and community in making the schools function better.