With an escalating crime graph and sexual predators prowling free, the city is no longer a safe haven for children. Incidents of hideous crime against minor girls are on an all time high, especially in the labour populated areas where children are generally left unattended at home by parents, who toil away at menial jobs to make both ends meet.
However, the district administration seems to be least interested in addressing the problem or providing safe environment to these children by opening crèches in such areas. One such crèche that was proposed in the labour flats in Giaspura area is not operational as yet, as the government officials are waiting for some non-governmental organisation (NGO) or philanthropic individual to sponsor the paint job and other pending civil work of the building.
After a rise in crime against children, the district administration and the police department had planned to open crèche in the labour populated areas for those children whose parents go to work, as the police found that the offenders were targeting children who were alone at home. The district administration has also roped in an NGO Nobel Foundation to run the crèche.
According to police records, over 60 cases of sexual assault on children were reported in the city in the first 10 months of 2016. Most of the crimes were reported from Giaspura, Focal Point, Sherpur, Dhandhari, Basto Jodhewal and Salem Tabri areas, which are mostly populated by migrant labourers. In most of such cases, either the neighbour or one of the relatives of the victims were the culprits.
The district administration, through the municipal corporation, has allotted four flats for the crèche in the labour flats in Giaspura area. The officers have urged the city industrialists to come forward for the noble cause of painting the crèche building.
Recently, one of the industrialists has shown interest in taking up the cause. Almost 6 months have passed and the walls of proposed crèche are still awaiting a whitewash.
Rajinder Sharma, head of Nobel foundation, said his NGO has committed to provide care takers and teachers for children, while other civil work was to be sponsored by a company. They are waiting to take over the crèche, once completed.
When contacted, deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat said, “It is a joint project with public and private collaboration. The company that consented to provide furniture and whitewash wanted some changes. Moreover, formal permission from the municipal corporation was also awaited, which has been received now.”
He added that the crèche will be functional in one month. After this, they will establish crèches in other areas too.
Victim’s parents voice their concern
A street vendor, whose 8-year-old niece was raped by an acquaintance, said after the incident, he sent her back to his native village in Uttar Pradesh as he had nobody to take care of her after he and his wife leave for work daily. If the government starts a crèche facility for children, he can think of leaving his niece there during day time.
Father of another victim said most of the labourers in Ludhiana face the problem of ensuring safety and security of their children. Both the husband and wife are forced to work for livelihood, so they have to leave their children alone at home. “The government should think about us too, as we are the backbone of the state’s development,” he said.