Rescuing children in peril: Police, railways not prompt enough

Rescuing children in peril: Police, railways not prompt enough

The going is easy for a child trafficker in Bangalore. Even if he / she is caught by child rights groups, the case would be trapped in a complex web of police jurisdictional issues. In the melee, the accused often manages a neat getaway!

Braving severe staff and financial constraints, child rights groups have rescued hundreds of children from the City’s transportation hubs and from inside City-bound trains. 

But this has not broken the well-entrenched trafficking rackets. Reason: Lack of proactive support from the police and the railways.

As child rights activists complain, the police often fail to act on the traffickers citing jurisdictional problems. 

“We do catch the racketeers while patrolling inside moving trains, but the law enforcers keep passing the buck contending that it doesn’t come under their limits,” said a frustrated NGO director.

An estimated 1,500 runaway/trafficked children end up in Bangalore city every month. But only a small proportion is rescued by the child rescue groups thanks to their constraints. A vast majority of the children become part of the street, uncared for, exploited and easy picks for crime syndicates.

Constraints

Is there a conscious effort from the State to rescue these street children? “Not at all,” said a child rights worker preferring anonymity. 

“The child helplines respond only when a child calls. There are no proactive projects in place to save them. The police patrol the City to prevent crime. But no one goes around the City to rescue these street children. The department has no programme to compel its staff to work on the streets.”

‘Yet to recognise’

The railways was yet to recognise trafficking as a problem, felt a seasoned expert in the child welfare sector. “There is no serious, concerted effort to look at the child found on the platform.”

This should explain why Bosco, an NGO, has to shell out a monthly rent of Rs 20,000 to the railways, to maintain its 24/7 Child Rescue Booth on Platform 2 at the City Railway Station. 

“They wanted us to treat it as a commercial property,” said a top official at Bosco.The railways could have easily done without that money. 

“We could have engaged two more volunteers with that amount as we rescue about 400-450 children from the City station every month,” reasoned the official.

The NGO has not lost hope. During a recent visit to the booth by German First Lady Daniela Schadt, the South Western Railways had assured to consider the proposal.

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