By Paritosh Chakma
I learned with horror and pain that a Mizo boy identified as Lalnunpuia, son of Rinsanga of Chaltlang Lily in Aizawl, was on last July 13 tortured to death by the caretakers at Herald for Christ’s Children Home at Lungleng, about 15 kms north of Aizawl. The only fault of the ill-fated child, who was barely 13 years, was that he had allegedly ragged another boy junior to him. The deceased was accused of being indiscipline and hence, "punished" by the workers of the Home. But he was beaten up so brutally and inhumanly that he died hours later in the same day.
As it happened every time someone was beaten to death, the authorities of the Herald for Christ’s Children Home tried to cover up the incident and defend the accused. The Home’s authorities initially stated that the child had died of asthma and heart problem. But the photographs published in a local newspaper “The Aizawl Post” dated 16th July 2009 indicate brutal torture on the boy. This concurs with the claim of the boy’s parents that he had been tortured to death.
The Herald for Christ’s Children Home is a recognized intitution under the Social Welfare Department of the government of Mizoram. The act of torture to the point of death constitutes the most serious violation of human rights. The government of Mizoram must take adequate measures to arrest the perpetrators and they must be brought to justice, whoever they are and whatever connections they have, if any, with higher authorities including, of course, politicians.
The death of Lalnunpuia should also serve as a wake up call for the government of Mizoram which should immediately activate all its mechanisms to monitor the conditions of all such Homes/detention centres wherever children are being given shelter/detained - be they private or government-run. It is the duty of the State to protect the rights of every child.
Article 191(1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states that "States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child."
During investigation/monitoring by officials, no leniency must be shown to the concerned officials of the Homes/detention centres if any failings on the part of the insitutition is noticed. Any inadequacies must be immediately addressed; every worker or official of such Homes/ detention centres must be held accountable for his or her actions of ill treatment against any child. Any complaint or allegation must be promptly investigated and its findings made public along with the action taken report. Only this will help prevent further abuse of children or deaths of children in Children's Home.
Every child has his/her rights. Let every child bloom to the fullest and for that matter, he or she be allowed to grow in an environment free from torture or torturous conditions.