Wednesday, 8 December 2021

Farhan: If kids aren’t safe in schools, where are they then?


MUMBAI: Like all of us, the murder of the seven-year old child at a posh school in Gurgaon has left filmmaker cum actor and activist Farhan Akhtar shell-shocked.

“I am numbed. Words fail me. We speak about crime and then move on. This is the mistake that we make and this is what encourages crime. The lack of accountability and sustained protest… the most frightening thing is, that the monster who did this horrific deed to the child thought he would get away after doing something so inhuman,” says Farhan badly shaken by the gruesome crime.

“I can’t even begin to imagine what the child’s parents are going through. As parents, we all have reason to feel very concerned. You say people like us are empowered and privileged and therefore relatively safe. I disagree with you. Because when  children go to school their parents are  not with them. They are as vulnerable as any other child from any section of the society. It is therefore the school’s responsibility to ensure  their safety. I think the school administration has failed not just the child but also proved how damaged our system is,” says Farhan wondering how such potential criminals are employed to protect children.

“I mean, we are talking about the most vulnerable section of our society, the children. Had they cross-checked this monster’s credentials  before employing him?” wonders Farhan.

Some  time  ago, one of the female employees Pallavi Purkayastha from Farhan’s company had been violated and killed by the watchman of her building whose credentials were unverified. “To save  some money you employ dubious people to look after homes and schools. What could be  more careless and  irresponsible? We  immediately need to pass stricter laws against careless employment of unverified people. Because whether they are potential criminals or not is not written on their faces. How do we know that the watchman employed to protect our homes or the bus conductor employed to drive children to school is trustworthy?” asks the Rock On star.

He also feels that empowered sections of society do  not  exercise enough clout to stop these crimes. “Don’t just point fingers at actors. It could be any empowered or privileged  individual or organisation. We all must join forces to make sure that no potential criminal thinks that he can get away with a crime as heinous as the one committed by that bus conductor in Gurgaon. ”

As  an actor Farhan feels he can’t play anti-socials. “Maybe some years ago when crime was not so  barbaric, I could have.  Now I doubt I will ever play a serial killer, rapist or a child molester  just because it would challenge me as an actor. What about the much greater challenge that we face as nation to protect our vulnerable sections? We who have must think twice before  using that  voice.”

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