The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was facing a tide of criticism on Saturday, two days after its officers reportedly employed a 13-year-old boy to peep into a “secret chamber” inside a Burdwan house and open concealed bags full of explosives.
The agency recovered 39 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and chemicals from the Badsahi Road residence of a person identified as Rezaul Sheikh where a blast killed two people on October 2.
The boy was made to crawl into a tight space over a bathroom, a gap too narrow for NIA and police personnel to navigate, and open the sacks, sources said.
“Children are used by the state, centre and militant groups for all the wrong reasons. This is a violation of child rights and a child’s life cannot be put in danger while an investigating agency is probing a bomb blast. The people who are responsible for this, should be booked under cases of cruelty,” said Delhi-based child rights activist Bharti Ali. “At a time when the centre is reviewing the Juvenile Justice Bill, one has to be sensitive to these aspects.”
NSG commandos, who were assisting the NIA, stood guard over the explosives all night which were destroyed on Friday morning under expert supervision.
Ali said if the NIA officials did not inform the boy that he could be handling explosives, they were guilty of fraud and cheating.
“I am going to speak to the chairperson of the child welfare committee and take cognisance of the matter as the boy’s life was at stake,” said Shashi Panja, women and child development minister of West Bengal.