New Delhi: Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Monday set off on a march across the country to mobilise action against sexual abuse and trafficking of children.
Starting from the southernmost tip of peninsular India, Kanyakumari, and passing through Kashmir, the Bharat Yatra (Indian journey) will culminate in New Delhi on October 16.
“Child rape and sexual abuse has become a moral epidemic that haunts our nation and we can no longer remain silent spectators. Our silence is breeding more violence. That is why the Bharat Yatra is the beginning of an all-out war on rape, abuse and trafficking,” he said.
Sathyarthi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for his struggle for the rights of children, launched the procession from Vivekananda Rock Memorial here.
He urged the youth to join the campaign to ensure the safety and security of children.
The rally’s flagging off commemorated the anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s address at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi extended his support to the initiative, and his message was read out at the launch.
The campaign comes days after the killing of a seven-year-old Gurgaon schoolboy, who had allegedly resisted sexual abuse, and the alleged rape of a five-year-old girl in a Delhi school — incidents that have evoked major outrage in the country.
Satyarthi, who has been campaigning for the freedom, safety and security for children across the globe for the past 36 years, said each time a child is in danger, the country is in danger.
“Bharat Yatra is to make India safe again for our children. Make no mistake, this will be a decisive war; a war to reclaim the morality of the Indian soul,” he said.
“My war to end all forms of abuse against children starts today. Are you with me?” he asked the thousands gathered at the venue.
Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan and noted music director Ilaiyaraaja were present at the event.
Satyarthi was joined by government officials, schoolchildren and teachers, abuse survivors and media persons as he marched for the children of the country.