Congress MLA Shakuntala Shetty (right) chairing an earlier meeting of the legislative standing committee on Women and Child Welfare (photo: The Hindu)
A house committee of the Karnataka Legislative Assembly has recommended that the state administration ban mobile phones in schools and colleges, blaming smartphones for the rise in rapes and other crimes against women.
"Many students, especially minors, make friends with new people who may not be genuine; this could lead to a case of molestation," said the panel in its report tabled in the Assembly.
Congress MLA Shakuntala Shetty, who headed the panel, demanded that mobiles be kept away from students till the age of 18.
"We have found during our interactions that mobile is the reason behind kidnap and rape among school and college going girls," Shetty alleged in a news report by CNN-IBN.
"When I did go through two or three rape cases of minor girls, what they told me was that they had got a missed call and out of curiosity they wanted to find out about it and it started from there," Shetty was quoted as saying.
According to media reports, even the State Women and Child Welfare Committee has expressed its support for such a ban.
This is not the first time that a ban on mobile phones in schools and colleges has been proposed in Karnataka. The previous BJP administration had made a similar demand, though it had called for mobile phones to be banned for the alleged health hazards from using these for long hours.
This time around the Congress administration seemed surprised by the ban demand by its own representatives, particularly their blaming access to social media for crimes against women.
Shetty’s own party colleague Karnataka Education Minister Kimmane Ratnakar said that it would be difficult to impose such a ban, while senior party leader Manish Tewari dismissed the recommendation as weird and laughable.
Chief Minister Siddaramaiah too seemed to disagree with the conclusions drawn by the house committee.
"We use advanced technology, but I don't think it affects the behaviour of children," he clarified.