Nayagarh Minor Girl Murder Case: High Time To Revive ‘Paree Payeen Kathatiye’ Campaign?

Bhubaneswar: In 2018, Odisha police spearheaded a campaign ‘Paree Payeen Kathatiye’ in collaboration with the UNICEF. The programme, launched by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in May, 2018 gained immense popularity in rural and urban Odisha alike and reaped results.

About one year later, in August 2019, the Chief Minister announced next phase of the campaign which helped address various social evils and heinous crimes against women and girls.

Today, as Odisha is witnessing turmoil over alleged murder and kidnapping of a minor girl in Jadupur village of Nayagarh district, continuity of campaigns like ‘Paree’, with a greater force has become even more essential.

‘Paree Payeen Kathatiye’ was a social campaign against child sexual abuse. Under this, 15 vans modified as ’Paree Express’ covered all 30 districts of the State. Trained volunteers of the UNICEF and Odisha police participated to raise social consciousness of the public against child abuse.

The heinous crime committed against the Nayagarh minor girl forced her parents to attempt self-immolation in the State Capital, seeking justice. Call it a divine coincidence, the name of this little girl who went missing on July 14 and was found dead nine days later was also ‘Pari’.

While launching the second phase of the Paree campaign, the Chief Minister had noted that despite having stringent laws, sexual offences against minor children have witnessed a rising trend across the country, including Odisha.

According to an analysis of the State Police on sexual assault against minor children, in about 94 per cent cases, the offenders are either relative of the victims or members of the same community.

Senior officers in the Odisha Police said, Paree campaign (workshops) focussed on women trafficking, child sexual abuse, cyber-crimes against women and children and measures for improving the conviction rate of sexual offence cases. The campaign was fruitful and welcomed by all quarters of the society.

During that time, the then DG Police, Dr RP Sharma said Odisha police planned ‘Mission Paree 2024’, a five-year programme focused on preventing child sexual abuse, curbing trafficking of women and children, preventing child marriages and implementing steps to eradicate the child labour networks.

However, subsequently for reasons not known, the campaign, ‘Paree Payeen Kathatiye’ took a backseat. The ‘Paree Express’ vehicles were no more seen on the streets of Odisha, nor were the volunteers performing skits to create awareness.

“Child sexual abuse is a very crucial issue which needs to be taken very seriously as 1,000 to 1,200 such cases are registered every year. Such campaigns are important for public awareness as most of the perpetrators are known to the children,” a senior Journalist.

Senior IPS officer Arun Bothra has been appointed head of the Special Investigation Team (SIT) setup by the State Government to probe the Nayagarh case. Incidentally, Bothra, the then IG Police of Crime Branch was a key member of the team which was driving the ‘Paree Payeen Kathatiye’ campaign.

“We are not sure why the campaign, ‘Paree Payeen Kathatiye’ stopped abruptly. But resuming it would certainly help in curbing heinous crimes against little girls and prevent cases like the brutal murder of the Nayagarh minor girl,” the senior scribe added.