Patrolling trains to stop child traffickers

Bosco volunteers fan out in five directions to rescue the trapped children

Patrolling trains to stop child traffickers

Trapped, sold and exploited, hundreds of children fall victim to the well-networked child traffickers in Bangalore every month. Evading child rights groups who keep a watch at the city’s transportation hubs, these traffickers alight at railway stations on the outskirts. 

To catch them before that and rescue the children, Bosco, a city-based Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) has now launched a novel project: Patrolling in the trains.

Bosco had no choice. For, the government has no system in place to nip the child trafficking rackets in the bud. Barring the few NGO volunteers, there is no one to rescue the 1,500-odd children who end up in the city every month. Entering the city from KR Puram, Whitefield, Chickaballapur, Banaswadi and other far-flung stations, the army of children disappear into the dark alleys of the murky child labour and prostitution rackets.
 Here’s how Bosco’s patrolling works: Trained staff board the trains that operate between Bangalore and Mysore, Hindupur, Arsikere, Kuppam and Hosur. These routes were identified as most prone to trafficking, Bosco’s Executive Director, Fr. George explained to Deccan Herald. Bosco’s objective is clear: To smartly spot and rescue the vulnerable children being lured away by the racketeers on the promise of jobs and a good life.

The effort has paid off. At Ramanagara, a team travelling on the Mysore route managed to identify in time a bunch of children who were being taken to Chickpet to be employed as bonded labourers. The children were rescued. So were another group of children who were fleeing from a Math in Tumkur. “On the Kolar route, we have seen women travelling with children sport a burkha once they reach Bangalore East station. We discovered  the children were to be taken for beggary in Shivajinagar and other areas,” said Fr. George.

From the rescued children, the Bosco patrol teams also learnt that scores of ragpickers in Ramamurthynagar and KR Puram were brought to the city in the same manner. But the 10 Bosco staff could track only a small section of the apparently wide-spread racket. They had to rationalise their patrolling. On the Mysore route, for instance, the teams found that the children mostly used only the local trains. The two staffers per train ratio was grossly inadequate.

It has not been easy patrolling the trains. Convincing passengers is tough, especially when children pose as sweepers and vendors. “There is a lot of risk involved. Our staff have to move from train to train. We have to purchase the tickets, the railways only issue us ID cards,” explained a Bosco volunteer. But braving these odds did help them get deep insights into the beggary mafia, on gangs forcing young boys into the sex trade, and the dark, shady links of substance abuse. 

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