HYDERABAD: The Telangana and West Bengal governments are indulging in a blame game after 57 children, all belonging to West Bengal and rescued by the state government here in the city, have been left to fend for themselves. The West Bengal government has refused to take them back.
As part of the cordon and search initiative of the Hyderabad Police and Operation Smile, 57 children belonging to West Bengal were rescued over the last couple of months in the city.
]“On January 29, 30 children from West Bengal were rescued here, after which we immediately sent a report, informing them about it. Then on February 13, another 27 children were rescued, making it a total of 57 children. We had informed the West Bengal government regarding this matter on March 4. It has been eight days since the order has been passed by our government but they refuse to cooperate,” lamented a senior officer from the Women and Child Welfare Department.
Pointing out that the two governments have been constantly in touch with each other regarding the issue, he said, “Initially, they said that it would be better if we send the children on Monday because of Holi festival. We booked the tickets, alerted railway police and made all necessary arrangements but they cancelled it in the last minute. Now after further negotiations, they have postponed the date to Sunday,” the officer said. Accusing the West Bengal authorities of being insensitive, the officer expressed surprise at their behaviour despite knowing that the children were undergoing mental trauma.
However, West Bengal authorities defended themselves saying that they are only abiding by the law and that they first have to ascertain the address of the children before bringing them back to the state.
“According to the Juvenile Justice Act, we must first ascertain the address proof of every child before allowing them into the state. First, the Telangana government officials told us that there were 30 children and now they are telling us that there are 57 children. Verifying the address of so many children takes time, which is why we have requested time until Sunday,” clarified Anindya Ghosh, District Child Protection Officer, West Bengal.
“I understand that they are having a lot of problems and I completely empathise with them, because it’s difficult for children to adjust outside home. However, we are governed by the law and we must follow necessary protocol. There is a chance that the child is lying about where he is from and he may even be from Bangladesh. So it is important that we verify it first. My request to Telangana government is to just wait for a few more days, since they have waited for so long,” Ghosh told Express.