Yatra is a form of opera. Yatra is a form of performing art in which drama and dance are utilized adequately. There are many Yatra troupes in the states of West Bengal and Orissa. People and people mainly living in the villages find element of entertainment by these village-based performances round the year save the monsoon months. Children of the poor families are hired for the troupes if they have a little ability to dance and imitate. Still these troupes are centers of agonizing darkness.
Boys and girls of the poorer section of the society are recruited by the owners of the troupes and they are to undergo regular rehearsals. When they are seen performing on the stages the spectators appear to be spell bound. But they do not know the hardship of those children who laugh and cry and dance and utter the set dialogues on the stages every night.
Children enter this world of rural glamour not with their own demand and they enter to occupy the sage even before attaining puberty. They are naturally deprived of education. Most of them do not even know what a school is and many of them are hapless drop outs. They, however, learn to read the scripts and that is the end of their education.
They seem to have worn costly and glittering attires on the stage and effect of lighting turns them attractive. But in real life they do not have the required shirts or frocks. What they wear during the day is torn and not clean. They are not given sufficient food. They get very frugal meal and very little protein. Actually they eat less than what they need. If a boy or a girl asks a little more he or she is treated with sticks and slaps.
These child artists are not attended if they are ill. And they are generally ill and tuberculosis is the common destination for most of them. They are to take rest on the dirty floor and they are not allowed to take necessary rest. Again, they are punished in different forms on any plea. They are regularly beaten and tortured by the owners and managers of the troupes.
Boys are regular victims of sexual abuse in the hands of the senior members and managers. There is some worst kind of homosexuals in every troupe. Plight of the girls are much pathetic. They are raped from the early part of their life and they suffer most.
The funniest thing is that these kids are not paid. Some of them are hired on the condition that they will be given food and shelter. Parents of a few are assured that they will get some money every month. But this assurance is not always honored.
It is not that the wretched state of affair inside the world of Yatra is unknown to the privileged world. These unfortunate children are not counted as human beings. Naturally nobody questions if human rights are violated or not. In India political parties count if the issue has any relation with the election future. Hence these children are left to be perpetually persecuted. India is one of the signatories of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Yes, it is true. Yes, still the spectacle is unbearably gloomy.