Monday, June 24, 2024

Bal Bandhu programme to counter Maoists in NE


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From Our Correspondent

 NEW DELHI: With increased instances of extremists and Maoists forming links troubled Northeast the Centre’sunique “Bal Bandhu” programme roping in children for various developmental work in the undeveloped areas is making good progress.

The Bal Bandhu programme has produced a new cadre of children volunteers who are bringing change through non violence in areas affected by civil unrest.

Even such volunteers helped in identifying missing children and are able to bring many of them back.

To sensitize such programme the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had organized a three day workshop which was concluded here recently. The workshop was addressed by veteran Gandhian Dr Natwar Thakkar who is widely popular in Northeast.

The link between the insurgents and Maoists was on top of the agenda in the conference of Director General of Police (DGs)/IGs and Heads of the Central Police Organisation of the North East at Guwahati.

It was revealed that the Maoist penetration is more on the Assam-Meghalaya and Assam-Nagaland border.

The social activist popularly known as “Thakkar Baba” with ashrams in Nagaland , lauded the work done by the Bal Bandhus amid difficult and dangerous conditions to protect child rights. He said that non-violence alone could lead to development and the Bal Bandhus were showing this was possible through their work.

The Bal Bandhu scheme, a three year pilot programme funded by the Prime Minister’s Office, was launched a year ago in five states and nine districts affected by insurgency and Naxal activities including in Northeast.

The 177 Bal Bandhus working in these states have so far been able to enrol 8633 children into schools, made 594 schools and 458 anganwadis functional, and registered 1797 children into residential bridge courses and Kasturba Gandhi Ballika Vidyalayas.

In addition, 7539 academically weak children have been provided coaching support, NCPCR sources said.

Neela Gangadharan, secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development, said that the work done by the Bal Bandhus in mapping children was crucial as it provided important data on the gaps in the various government schemes. This would help them strengthen government programmes like the Integrated Child Development Service scheme and Integrated Child Protection Scheme.

NCPCR Chairperson Shantha Sinha pointed out that the Bal Bandhus had become adept at giving solutions thanks to their training and abilities to think out of the box. By helping children to realise their rights, the Bal Bandhus were strengthening the country since children were the future of India, she said.


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