New Delhi: Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to immediately declare drought as a “national emergency”, saying it had badly hit children in rural areas.

Over 16.3 crore children were affected by the “severe drought situation”, Satyarthi said in a letter to Modi that was released to the media.

The child rights activist said the drought across 10 states had led to rampant child marriage, child labour and kidnapping of children.

Child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. ReutersChild rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. Reuters

Child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. Reuters

“Owning to this drought and the ongoing water crisis, children are becoming increasingly vulnerable,” Satyarthi said in the letter.

“Reports of children being forced into child labour, trafficking, child marriage and the Devadasi system are coming to light,” he added.

Satyarthi’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan put the figures of missing children in the country at 35,873, those abducted at 22,014 and those forced into child labour at 74,84,416.

“Hope the prime minister listens to the ‘Mann ki Baat’ of these 16.3 crore children,” Satyarthi said.

He said the figures he had produced were based on government records.

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‘Declare drought as national emergency’: Kailash Satyarthi urges PM Modi