Can’t accept using kids for electioneering work: Election Commision

The State Election Commission is determined to put an end to the practice of political parties roping in children for campaigns in the run-up to the Assembly elections slated for May 16
Can’t accept using kids for electioneering work: Election Commision
A child dressed up as MGR at a recent event

Chennai

Considering that parties may target poor families to hire children for electioneering, the State Labour Department officials also has warned that parties violating rules will land in trouble if they are determined to do so. 
Further, each district has flying squads, formed to monitor such practices and based on evidence, cases will be filed against political parties engaging children for election campaigns. Child rights activists and NGOs also joined in the chorus against employing children for political gain and stressed the need for comprehensive cooperation from the public to eliminate such practices. 
According to sources, political parties, in earlier elections, exploited children forcing them to dress up like former leaders to lure voters. These children were paid a pittance. Though the exploitation by parties were prominently featured in the media, stakeholders like District Child Protection Units (DCPUs), District Social Welfare officers and police officials failed to take punitive action. 
Meanwhile Chief Electoral Officer of Tamil Nadu Rajesh Lakhoni has stated that employing children during election campaigns could be construed as entertaining child labour and would be a punishable offence. He has advised officials to implement the provisions of the child rights act strictly. 
Lakhoni told DtNext that children should not be employed for election purposes. “Employing child labour is an offence as per the existing act and the respective departments should ensure that provisions are strictly implemented.” 
“We will intensify our monitoring system during the elections and will file a case against any political party violating the rules,” said a senior official from the State Labour Department. AD Revathy, a member of Tamil Nadu Commission for Protection of Child Rights (TNSCPCR) said that, “Mainly, political parties will target poverty-stricken families to hire children. 
Further, we will file case against political parties based on the evidence submitted to us and all stakeholders including public should extend their cooperation.”

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