Tourism officials meet responsible citizens, seek help to curb menace
By: Ahmad Shabir
Anantnag: Waking up to the issue of child labour at world famous tourist spot, Pahalgam here in South Kashmir, tourism authorities have sought help from the responsible senior citizens of the area to curb the child labor. The development comes a day after Precious Kashmir reported in detail how the pony labour is destroying the dreams of school going children at the famed spot.
Assistant Director tourism for Pahalgam, Bilal Ahmad told this newspaper that the department convened a meeting of senior and responsible people from almost all the villages of Pahalgam on Saturday and asked them to play their part in controlling the pony labor by children in the area.
“We called many responsible elders from affected localities and sought their help in curbing the child labour. We appealed them to counsel the parents of these children in their respective villages and make them understand the importance of education of their kids. Since community has to discourage the child labor collectively we decided to involve the community members as a first step to control the menace,” the Assistant Director said.
Besides involving the community members, the officer said, they have also directed the tourist police to keep check on child pony labor and act against the parents of such children.
“Though as per law we cannot act against the children engaged in labor but our police will counsel them where ever found. We are taking a slew of measures to control the menace,” the Assistant Director said.
Though the hundreds of locals of the tourist spot are engaged in pony labor for decades, however minor school going children have been getting involved in the job during last several years. It has become a major concern for many at the famed spot. Most of these children come from poor and un-lettered families.
According to some local teachers, many children studying in primary and middle classes have given up their studies for pony labor in last several years.
Though these pony operators are supposed to obtain license from tourism authorities to operate ponies but a local teacher, Tasleem Arif said that these children enjoying the support of their parents are operating ponies on different tracks without any licenses.
“Tourism authorities have bitterly failed to keep a check on it. No doubt these children have the support of their families but tourism and labor authorities can easily stop it if they show some seriousness,” Tasleem told Precious Kashmir.
He said that local religious preachers and other educated lot can play a major role in stopping the child labor.