For children of a lesser god

The Government Railway Police in Bihar has, of late, received a bad press for the increase in crime on trains. But after a change of guard at the helm, the rot has been stemmed to some extent. But the GRP wants to get to the root of the problem. And the root cause of the spate in crime is the increasing participation of children in train robbery and luggage lifting.

Not only this, the children, who should have been enrolled in any primary school under Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, could be found working as a rag-pickers in the day  at Patna Junction, and a budding criminal in the night. Many of the apprehended children confessed that they became drug peddlers to eke out their living.

A month after taking over as the officer-in-charge of GRP, Patna, the no- nonsense cop Ramakant, whom the entire State Capital admires for his bravery and integrity, has made a sincere effort to help these children give up crime and start their elementary education.
“After they were apprehended for different crimes, I found a majority of them had neither father nor mother.

Under such circumstances, they took up petty crimes to eke out their living. Some of them even became drug addicts. It was then that I decided that they should be first imparted basic education. Once they are into studies, chances are they might give up crime for ever,” averred Ramakant.

But the question was who would bear the expenses. It was then decided that the GRP would arrange for their studies. Some teachers have been roped in from nearby Gayatri Mandir who will take the classes at the western end of platform No 1 at Patna junction. A non-governmental organisation has agreed to provide appropriate dress for them. The GRP will foot the bill for the purchase of stationery like slate, books, copy, pencil and eraser.

Another NGO has offered to contribute towel, soap and food for the dozen-odd children. “Once these children pick up basics, efforts will be made to admit them to a government school,” said Ramakant, who is writing a new chapter in the GRP’s chequered history.

But Ramakant is not the first one to have thought up this novel idea. Some time back, the Prison Department, in collaboration with an NGO started a school for the tiny-tots who had to live in the jail and face ignominy for no fault of theirs. The kids could now be seen learning alphabets on the jail premises itself.

The NGO, which earlier held a summer camp for the children of women convicts was so touched with the response that it approached the IG (Prisons) to allow the organisation to run a regular school for these children, who, otherwise, spent their time in the surrounding of the prison.

“A brush with these kids motivated me to open a school exclusively for the children of woman jail inmates,” said Syed Riyaz Monir, coordinator of the NGO.

His wife Heena Monir, who runs a school, has mobilised manpower for imparting education to these kids. “During the summer camp, we had requisitioned the services of teachers of this school, but after starting a regular school, a teacher has been specifically assigned the task of taking classes for these children,” he said and added that the organisation had also provided free educational tools to these kids.

Earlier, the Home (Jail) Department had also sanctioned funds for running crèches in 15 different jails in Bihar. The fund had been provided by the Bihar State Council for Children Welfare, headed by the Governor, who happens to be ex-officio president of the council.

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