He risks his life to save children

He risks his life  to save children

Being a doctor, Jitendra Chaturvedi from Kushinagar district in Uttar Pradesh could easily have followed in the footsteps of many of his classmates and set up his own clinic and focused on curing diseases. Instead, Dr Chaturvedi focused on treating another “very serious” ailment that afflicted society. It is child trafficking.

A graduate in homoeopathic medicine, Chaturvedi has till September 2014 rescued over 1,100 children from trafficking gangs and other industries and helped them to return to their homes.

Chaturvedi has also been active in rescuing missing children from neighbouring Nepal and has also been running “Missing Child Alert” programme to repatriate the Nepali children rescued in India and vice versa. He is also engaged in strengthening Indo-Nepal stakeholder relations on the issues of missing and trafficked children.

“Repatriating children is as important as rescuing them,” Chaturvedi, who also runs a clinic at Bichiya town in Bahara­ich district, says. “The objective behind starting the clinic is to serve the poor and tribal community,” he told Deccan Herald.

Rescuing children reported missing but actually working at brick kilns or small-and-medium-scale factories in different parts of the country is not an easy task, Chaturvedi says. “The job is fraught with risks. One faces danger from the traffickers’ gangs and there is no cooperation from the police. Often the police are hand in glove with the traffickers,” he says.

Recalling some major rescue operations, Chaturvedi said that he and his team of volunteers had rescued six children from Bichhia Railway station a few years back.  “All of them were being taken to Gaziabad for child labour,” he said. One person was also was arrested.

His efforts also saw the rescue of 38 children being trafficked to Jaipur for embroidery industries. “When I was returning home one evening in a bus, I saw a youth boarding the bus with a large number of children at Girdharpur village. All of them were between 8 and 14 years and were carrying travel bags on their back,” he said.

Chaturvedi suspected some foul play. He quietly slipped to a seat near one of the children and asked him about his destination. “He told me that all of them are going to Jaipur for earning money,” Chaturvedi said. He immediately decided at hijack the bus. He succeeded in his plan and rescued children and helped them to reunite with their families.
Despite a strong opposition from the local MLA of the ruling party, he succeeded in registering an FIR against the culprits in Nanpara Kotwali. Two were arrested later and sent to jail.

In another instance, six children were rescued from a state roadways bus going from Bahraich to Lucknow. All of them were being trafficked to Ahmedabad in Gujarat. An FIR was lodged and one of the culprits was arrested.

He also managed to rescue seven children from a train all alone a few years ago. “Trafficker Radhey Shyam was arrested after some struggle,” he said.

After the rescue, a counseling camp was organised by Dr Chaturvedi and team in the village of trafficked children. “It was shocking that the trafficker was the elder brother of a government primary school headmaster,’’ he said.

“The headmaster used to convince parents that their wards will not be able to clear the examinations as they were poor in studies and it will be better if they are sent for earning some money,” he pointed out.

Chaturvedi also rescued children from Nepal. “In March 2013, seven children of Ranjeet Bojha and Turhani Razzab villages were rescued from the brick kilns of the Kathmandu valley. They were kidnapped second time in the Nepalganj city of Nepal but were rescued again. They were also rehabilitated’’, he said.

Chaturvedi said that during this rescue, he did not receive any cooperation from Indian police and also Sashastra Seema Bal. “We also faced a strong opposition from the Maoists and brick kiln owners,” he said. He later started a 24x7 Child helpline in Bahraich.
The doctor also rescued a 12-year-old minor girl trafficked from Obra in UP’s Sonebhadra district to Shrawasti district. The minor girl had been gang-raped for 21 days in Koilahwa village of Shrawasti. Two were arrested and sent to jail.

“I have now stopped asking the police for help,” he remarked. He is actively
engaged in stopping child marriages. “We have managed to prevent 26 child marriages so far without any help,” he said.

“I myself underwent tremendous sufferings during my childhood. We were very poor and could barely survive. I had then decided that I would do something for society,” he said.
Chaturvedi had been abandoned by his family after he decided to get actively
involved in social service. “My parents wanted me to get a government job,” he added.

Chaturvedi’s efforts have been recognised at national and state levels. His NGO was given the “Manjunath Shanmugam National Integrity Award-2009”. He was also bestowed with “Social Bravery Award, in 2012 for his commendable work towards humanity. Father of a girl, Chaturvedi’s only wish is to make sure that no child was trafficked. “I am willing to do any thing to make it happen”, he remarked.

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