Children being used as ‘shields’ in Sabarimala stir: Kerala Minister seeks action

The minister told the state assembly that causing difficulties to children by engaging them in protests was against the Juvenile Justice Act and amounted to violation of Protection of Child Rights Act.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2018 14:47 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Thiruvananthapuram
Sabarimala temple,children,Kerala Minister
Members of the Sabarimala Ayyappa Seva Samajam pose with placards during a protest in Hyderabad on November 20, 2018, following the arrest of devotees at Sabarimala temple in Kerala. (AFP)

Cautioning against using children as ‘shield’ during agitations including the recent Sabarimala stir, Kerala Social Justice Minister K K Shylaja Wednesday said the state government would have to take action against such practices.

The minister told the state assembly that causing difficulties to children by engaging them in protests was against the Juvenile Justice Act and amounted to violation of Protection of Child Rights Act.

“Children were being used as shields in several agitations including in the recent Sabarimala stir. The government cannot permit the use of children as shields and we have to take action against such practices,” she said.

The minister, however noted that a large number of children were coming to Sabarimala Lord Ayyappa temple with their parents as part of the pilgrimage.

“There is nothing wrong in bringing children as part of faith in the hill shrine,” she said.

Shylaja was replying to a question by Murali Perunnelly (CPI-M) regarding the increasing trend of using children in agitations.

A number of children had been made part of ‘namajapa’ (chanting mantras) protests staged by devotees and right wing groups in Sabarimala against the implementation of the Supreme court verdict permitting women of all groups into the hill top temple.

The hill shrine had been witnessing protests by devotees and right wing groups against the government’s decision to implement the September 28 Apex Court verdict, permitting women of all age groups to pray at the temple.

To another question, the minister said steps are on to set up a Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) court of international standards in Ernakulam to ensure speedy trial in crime cases against children.

First Published: Dec 05, 2018 13:21 IST