Ludhiana, October 11, 2017, Wednesday: The Bharat Yatra, launched by Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi on 11 September, reached Punjab today, the thirtieth day of the 35-day long march across the country to build unprecedented awareness on combating child sexual abuse and trafficking.
The Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation and the Yatra marchers were welcomed atPunjab Agricultural University, by over 200 people and by students of 8 schools, who were enthusiastic about voicing their concerns about the safety and security in India.
Addressing the gathering, Shri. HS Phoolka said,“I congratulate the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation’s team and Mr. Satyarthi for this initiative, and travelling via Punjab and Ludhiana. The statistics on child sexual abuse, labour and trafficking are shocking in this countryand we will do whatever we can to contribute to the success of the Bharat Yatra.”
In the state of Punjab, about Five Lakh children (11%) in the age group of 6-14 years have never attended school. Additionally, more than two lakh children were found married before the attainment of legal age of marriage during 2011 Census.
Earlier last month, Union Home Minister, Shri. Rajnath Singh, gave his assurance on passing the anti-trafficking law, which aligns with one of the key demands of the Bharat Yatra.
Ever since its launch, Bharat Yatra has been drawing enormous support from citizens across India, including Amitabh Bachchan who tweeted to his fans to support the Yatra. Earlier, Union Minister for Shipping and Finance Mr Pon Radhakrishnan had flagged off the Yatra from Kanyakumari along with Mr Satyarthi. In Trivandrum, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assured whole hearted support from his government in eradicating the menace of child sexual abuse and trafficking.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had sent a personal letter to Kailash Satyarthi extending his support to the Yatra, which will cover 11000 kilometres across 22 States, including Karnataka. Some of the key cities it covers include Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Guwahati, Bhopal, Jaipur, Srinagar among others.
The Karnataka High court will pay special attention to POCSO cases so the children can get justice.
The Yatra was also supported by Andhra Pradesh and Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu walked with the Foundation to promote awareness about the cause. He also announced that the state of Andhra Pradesh would house a global policy institute dedicated to the well-being and security of children across the country.
At Kanniyakumari during the flag off Mr Satyarthi had declared, “I will not rest till children of this country are not safe. I am not going to stop fighting if the raping and abuse do not stop. I cannot sleep in peace until we win our war against rape and abuse. This moral epidemic haunts our nation, and it is time we fight against it, together.”
Re-iterating his mission behind launching the Bharat Yatra, he said “Why am I marching? Because my children are being raped. I refuse to accept that eight children go missing and two are raped every hour. Each time if a single child is in danger, India is in danger. Bharat Yatra is to make India safe again for our children.” Kailash Satyarthi has been campaigning for the freedom, safety and security for children across the globe for the past 36 years. His Nobel Peace Prize (2014) was for his continuous efforts and struggle for the rights children.
The Yatra is the launch of the three-year campaign against child rape and child sexual abuse which is aimed at increasing awareness and reporting of the cases, strengthening intuitional response including medical health and compensations, ensuring protection for victims and witnesses during trials and increasing convictions of child sexual abuse in a time bound manner.