New Delhi: It was an ghastly incident that occurred in country’s one of the most advanced states, Tamil Nadu, when its chief minister J Jayalalithaa was struggling for life in the high-specialty Apollo Hospital. As many as 20 children were brutalised with a belief that the pain of the children would save the life of Jayalalithaa.

Steel rods of two meter long were pierced to the cheeks of the children, reportedly a ritual performed for speedy recovery of Amma. A photograph reveals that the children were made to wear a cap with a photograph of  Jayalalithaa and with slogan written on it – “long live Amma”. Even a photo depicts vividly how a girl was caught by some persons for the purpose of piercing her cheeks.

What is worst is that police officials, who were present at the site, did nothing to stop the criminal act.

The Greater Chennai police commissioner has confirmed that such an incident had happened on October 3, 2016. As part of a ceremony, the children were made to walk from Murgan Temple to Seniamman Temple by the supporters of AIADMK.

It was following the commission’s report, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the additional commissioner of police(law and order), North Chennai, to register a case under sections 326/341/34/120B IPC and 23 of Juvenile Justice Act against those who forced the children to pierce their cheeks. The ACP has also been asked to inform within four weeks about the disciplinary action taken against the erring police officials, who were present at the site and did nothing to stop the criminal act.

The NHRC has also issued a notice to the Tamil Nadu principal secretary (home) to submit a report, within four weeks, on the steps taken to stop such rituals.

The NHRC has rejected the police commissioner’s contention in his report that the children were procured with the consent of their parents and the police officials who were mute spectators to the brutal incident were severely warned. The NHRC has observed that it fails to understand how the consent of the parents, or that of the children for the ritual, can justify the criminal act of piercing children’s cheeks with two meter steel rods.  Admittedly, the police officials, present at the site of the incident did nothing to stop it. Therefore, a simple warning to the erring police personnel is abysmal considering the gravity of the incident, the NHRC viewed.