Children could be trafficked for organ harvesting

Railway Protection Force person guarding Krantivira Sangolli Rayanna City Railway station, during high alert for terror attack treat in Bengaluru on Monday. Photo by S K Dinesh

Working diligently on their child rescue mission ‘Nanhe Farishtey’, Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials have stumbled on a case indicating that children could be trafficked for organ harvesting.

Five months ago, the RPF officials detained a suspicious-looking woman with three minor girls in Hubballi.

On questioning the woman, the officials learnt that she had a contact in Bengaluru, who was her employer, possibly an agent, who would take the children from her on the pretext of providing them with food and accommodation and with job offers.

“The woman had tricked the girls, aged 8 to 12, into coming with her. She was taking them to her employer to harvest their organs illegally,” Debashmita Chattopadhyay Banerjee, Divisional Security Commissioner (DSC) said.

Bengaluru, a swiftly developing metropolitan city, attracts youths with jobs. And this is being used to lure children from remote cities in the state as well as outside, who live in poverty, to head to Bengaluru for a new life, she added.

Upon intense questioning, the woman blurted out that there is a growing market in city hospitals for organs of children of different sizes and ages. Following this, the officials are revisiting earlier cases that are similar, and suspect that those also could have been done for organ harvesting.

Earlier, the RPF officials while investigating trafficked children’s cases, they would conclude that it could be either for bonded labour or sexual exploitation. Thirty-five children were rescued in 2019 in Bengaluru until August. Two cases were registered in 2017 and nine in 2018, a senior official added.

“The increase in the number of rescues is due to training our team in behavioural analysis from January 2018,” the DSC said.

The South Western Railway’s Operation Nanhe Farishtey, founded in July 2017, is engaged in rescuing children across railway stations in Karnataka, Goa and Tamil Nadu.

It has rescued 543 children in 2019 up to July.

Traffickers outsmart railway police

RPF officials say that since major city terminals have effective RPF patrolling, traffickers use smaller railway junctions, where RPF personnel will be fewer and no serious patrolling.

Some traffickers also use other public transports like buses or vehicles to cross railway terminals with effective RPF patrol and get on to trains from smaller junctions and reach their destinations.

Public awareness is the only way to identify such cases and report them to the railway police, said Debashmita Chattopadhyay Banerjee.

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