‘Children should not be in jail’

22 Nov 2017


SHEHZAD Roy performs at the Youth Offenders Industrial School on Tuesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
SHEHZAD Roy performs at the Youth Offenders Industrial School on Tuesday.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: “Children should not be in jail. I want to see a vacant Youth Offenders Industrial Sc­­hool,” said Shehzad Roy, the newly appointed United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) goodwill ambassador on Tuesday.

“I am not going to be a symbolic ambassador,” added the popular singer. “I want to start bringing change from the ground up,” he said during the celebration to mark his appointment at the juvenile facility.

There are as many stories as there are boys at the place. One said that he was locked up for stealing from a fruit cart, another said he was inside for burglary and yet another told Dawn that he had been framed in a murder case. There were also several youngsters there who had committed bailable offences. But they had to stay behind bars just because their families couldn’t afford to bail them out.

Mr Roy paid bail for six of them, who walked out of jail with him after the event. Their families were also there to take them home. “It is disheartening to see children imprisoned for petty crimes or drugs ruining the lives of young people. If I can help one child out of prison or persuade just one boy or girl to turn away from drugs, I will feel proud that I have made a difference,” he said on accepting his two-year assignment as national goodwill ambassador for UNODC Pakistan.

Speaking about his affiliation with UNODC, he said he was better known for education reform. “The problem with us human beings is that the moment we meet with a little success we think that we can do anything.

But reforming and turning around organisations is not so easy. It is a learning process,” he said while narrating how he turned around the Fatima Jinnah School and then the Khatoon-i-Pakistan School in the face of challenges.

“But working step by step with a proper strategy can do the trick, which worked for us too,” said Mr Roy, adding that his work earned him an invitation from the National Assembly where they passed a law against hitting children.

The event also saw the launch of Mr Roy’s video song ‘Aik baar zulm kay khilaf niklo ge tau jano ge ke tum akaile nahin.’

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2017