Postergirl, but only on paper

UNICEF brand ambassador and face of the campaign against child labour and still cleans utensils, report Vijay Swaroop and Partha Pratim Roy

india Updated: Nov 22, 2006 03:38 IST

The city is dotted with posters of a smiling six-year-old girl exhorting people to desist from employing children below the age of 14. But Chunchun, UNICEF brand ambassador and face of the campaign against child labour, still cleans utensils and serves food in her father’s roadside eatery on Beerchand Patel Road. The words on the poster — Baal maajduri aab aur nahin, yeh umar hai padhne aur badhne ki ((no more child labour, this is the age to study and grow) — fall flat once the sham is uncovered.

Baleshwar Das, 45, got to know of his daughter’s picture only when reporters came to his doorstep on Monday. The father of eight said: “I have no home or land. I somehow manage to feed my children. I had no idea a photograph of my daughter was being displayed at every nook and corner of the state.”

He has no objection to the government using his ‘Chuhia’s’ picture if it is for a noble cause but feels it should do something for his daughter. “My family has no roof over its head. Can't the officials at least give us a house under the Indira Awas Yojna,” he asks.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has ordered a probe, sought a report from UNICEF and issued instructions for Chunchun’s rehabilitation.

UNICEF communication officer Anupam Srivastava said the world body was just helping the Bihar government spread awareness and that it does not own institutions for rehabilitation.

Email Vijay Swaroop: vswaroop@hindustantimes

First Published: Nov 22, 2006 03:38 IST