A video of a six-year-old girl seen mopping the floor of a room of a state-run college in Nellore district in the presence of a head constable has gone viral, prompting the Andhra Pradesh DGP Gautam Sawang to order an inquiry and initiate disciplinary action against the policeman.
The incident happened at an intermediate spot evaluation centre (where intermediate or class 12 exam papers were being evaluated) at the government junior college at Atmakur town in SPSR Nellore district. According to the police, the girl was allegedly asked to clean the floor by her father, who was engaged to do the work.
After the video of the incident was telecast by local news channels, the DGP instructed Nellore District Superintendent of Police to inquire and initiate disciplinary action against the errant police head constable.
A Nellore district police officer told reporters that the watchman Krishna Prasad, the father of the child, works at the college and lives nearby with his wife and four kids. â€śHe doesnâ€™t keep well as he has a chronic disease â€¦ Our initial inquiry revealed that the childâ€™s mother had been cleaning the floor and had stepped away because some milk was boiling. Then, the girl picked up the cloth and started cleaning. The constables who were assigned on duty there just happened to be present and appeared in the photos. They are not responsible for getting the place cleaned, that is the job of the education department staff. Other staff and parents were also present when the incident happened,â€ť he said.
The policemen have been criticised for allowing the child to work in their presence when it is their duty to prevent incidents of child labour. Nellore police said that disciplinary action will be taken against the constables present if they were found guilty.
According to an official release, the DGP said it is extremely unfortunate that though awareness is being created regarding the Child Labour Prohibition Act, greater sensitisation and orientation is needed within the police department.
"Will not tolerate such incidents. More training and sensitising of police personnel against the use of child labour is needed," Sawang said, adding very soon a special drive will also be conducted against child labour in households.
The top cop said the incident is punishable under section 14 of the Child Labour Prohibition and Regulation Act 1986 and a person liable under this section can be subjected to imprisonment of three months extending up to one year or fine up to Rs 20,000 or both even if the person is the father of the child.