Seminar on ``Restorative Justice and Children`` organised by Don Bosco YaR   by Father Bivan R. Muhim
    Guwahati, Sep. 25. 2017 The 12th Annual National Seminar of Youth at Risk (YAR) on the Theme ``Restorative Justice and Children`` was held at Don Bosco Institute, Guwahati on 18th and 19th September. His Excellency, Shri. Ranjit Shekhar Mushahary, former Governor of Meghalaya, Shri. Surendra Kumar IPS, IGP, Crime Branch, Assam and Shmt. Bobita Sharma, former Chairperson, ASFFDC Ltd graced the inaugural session as the Chief Guest and the Guest of Honours respectively. Besides, a large number of guests participated in the National Seminar. Father V. M. Thomas, Provincial of Guwahati, Father Thathi Reddy, YaR National President and Provincial of Hyderabad and over 150 delegates including YaR office bearers and child right experts were present at the inaugural event.
    His Excellency, Shri Ranjit Shekhar Mushahary, the former Governor, while delivering his inaugural address, lauded the efforts of Don Bosco National Forum for taking care of the `Young at Risk.` He attributed the cause for the plight of children in a democratic society like India due to the ``rampant corruption`` prevalent in the system. ``We have many great religions and sound traditions that teach and stand for human values. However, those values are not reflected in our public life and as a result public funds are not utilized for the welfare of the people, driving them (children) into poverty and streets,`` he said.

    He observed that the Constitution of India guaranteed ample scope for protection of children. However, the corrupt system finds loopholes in the laws and the culprit always escape being caught. Emphasizing the need for providing a safe and conducive atmosphere for children, he called for a corruption free society that respects the right of everyone, including children.

    Speaking on the occasion, Shri. Surendra Kumar IPS, IGP, crime Branch, Assam, reminded the audience that the society has been witnessing increasing number of crimes as a result of slow process of justice delivery and other factors involved. ``The only difference between me and a child begging in the street is that I had the opportunity for a conducive growth while the child does not,` he said. ``Nothing can replace the role of a family. Parents are responsible for the upbringing and empowering of children in a homely atmosphere,`` he added. He appealed to everyone not to look down on children when they see them begging in the streets but rather give them the respect they deserve.  

    Father V.M. Thomas, Provincial of Guwahati spoke on the theme of the day. He lauded the initiatives of the Don Bosco YAR that stands for upholding the right of children in a society that is subjected to various crimes. He was of the view that ``Children are the most vulnerable in the society``, and so, urged everyone to work for the well-being of children, in the families and in the society. ``Restorative Justice is a fundamental requirement which our society need to accept as the guarantying factor for the well-being of children,`` he added.

    Ms. Bobita Sharma, former Chairperson, ASFFDC Ltd., conceded the fact that as a mother of two adult children, she was still under fear of the safety of her daughters. She further added that there is need to create a conducive environment in the society where all parents will be able to bring up their children without fear of them subjected to any sort of crimes.  

    The children of Snehalaya performed a prayer dance. This was followed by the traditional lamp lighting by the Chief Guest, the Guests of Honours and other dignitaries. Fr. Johnson Parackal, Executive Director of DBI, accorded a welcome to all the dignitaries and the delegates of the seminar and felicitated them. A book on the success stories of children titled Snehalaya- House of Love: `From Rags to Better Life` was also released on the occasion by the chief guest and all the dignitaries present on the occasion.
    Posted by Mukhim Rodrigues Bivan