Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi has said India's political class has once again "failed" millions of children, who are bought and sold at a "price lesser than cattle", by not discussing the anti-trafficking bill in the Rajya Sabha this time.
Noting that children are not yet a political priority and this "painful" thing has been proven once again, Satyarthi said on Thursday, January 10, all political parties should come together to ensure that Parliament should have at least one dedicated day to discuss issues and challenges related to child safety, education, and well-being.
He expressed displeasure over the anti-trafficking bill not being debated upon in the Rajya Sabha, according to a statement issued by his NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan. Satyarthi made the comments at the 25th Lal Bahadur Shastri Memorial Lecture on 'safe childhood, safe India', the statement said.
"India's political class has once again failed millions of girls and boys who are bought and sold at a price lesser than cattle. These victims of trafficking were anxiously hoping for the passage of the anti-trafficking bill in the Rajya Sabha this time around, but their hopes were dashed," he said.
"Mere sloganeering and rhetoric will never deliver justice and transform the society. From what everybody saw over the last few days, Parliament - the Temple of Democracy - is being used for reaping political and electoral gains and it seems that our elected representatives are not concerned about far bigger issues that are ruining innocent childhoods," Satyarthi said.
The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection, and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 was listed in the Rajya Sabha this Winter Session, but not debated or passed. The Lok Sabha had already passed the bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament in July last year.
The bill provides for designated courts for fast-tracking trials and timely repatriation of foreign victims - within a period of one year from taking into cognizance, which is a highly commendable move as there are many cases of trafficking from across the neighbouring countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Another path-breaking addition to the bill has been the formation of the National Anti-Trafficking Bureau (NATB), which will coordinate with authorities in international organisations, and facilitate the inter-state and trans-border transfer of evidence.