BENGALURU: Nobel laureate and child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi on Thursday spoke of the misuse of Railways to traffic women and children, and urged Railway employees to fight it. He was speaking at a seminar on rescue of trafficked children conducted by the Railway Protection Force (RPF).
Satyarthi said most of the trafficking in the country occurred through Railways, and hence it is not possible to stop it without cooperation from Railway employees. The activist spoke of his efforts to create awareness in the 1980s — a time when people ‘did not believe trafficking and slavery existed’.
He narrated what he believed was the first documented instance of rescue of trafficked humans, in which he played an active role. In 1981, a man whose family had worked as bonded labourers for 17 years at a brick kiln in Punjab, approached Satyarthi for help. Satyarthi and his companions went to the location where the labourers were kept, but were beaten up. He did not give up, and approached a court and through a habeas corpus petition writ, was able to rescue 36 men, women and children from the kiln.
“While taking the children home, I saw they were very scared of vehicles on the road as they had spent their entire lives within the kiln. That was the moment of self-realisation for me, and the day I found the path for my mission.”
Since then, Satyarthi’s organisation ‘Bachpan Bachao Andolan’ has done extensive work in child rescue, with over 86,000 children rescued until now, as per the activist. He said upon his organisation’s demand and appeal for the same in a High Court, a face recognition software was developed for rescued children.
He called upon Railway employees attending the seminar to be a part of the rescue work. The lack of powers for the Railway Protection Force (RPF) was pointed out by another official earlier at the event, and Satyarthi said he will take it up with Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi.
Security Commissioner, Railway Protection Force (Yelahanka), Debasmita Banerjee, who heads the Nanhe Farishtey (Little Angels) force, presented a seminar on the issue of child trafficking and RPF’s fight against it.