BENGALURU: Kicked out of home by his alcoholic father, post his mother’s suicide, Sunil (name changed) was barely 10 years old when he had to fend for himself on the streets. He and other such abandoned children slept in convention halls, stole food and money to get by. He and his gang were caught by the police and he was booked for stealing and attempt to murder on complaints from people in his neighbourhood.
“I can recall the torture inflicted on us by the police. Instead of taking us to court within 24 hours, we were kept at the station for two days, made to stand in a line with nothing but underwear and beaten by the police. Some of the older children received third degree torture. We were even threatened not to reveal anything in court. I was put into an observation home for nine months and was picked up by an NGO thereafter,” said Sunil, speaking to the media on the sidelines of a regional conclave of State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights on Tuesday.
Things changed for the better as the NGO put him through school and he completed BSc.
“My friend and I were lucky enough to be picked up by this NGO. Otherwise, I would have surely turned into a criminal. I was treated like a good person, and not a criminal there,” said the 26-year-old. He first took up a job at a BPO and is currently working at a private bank in the city. He lives in a flat and has made friends as well, though very few know of his troubled past. He is looking to save up and join a coaching class to write his UPSC exam.
“I decided to study and become an IAS officer and want to do social service. I want to help children like me so there are more who can come out of these situations. Children get influenced easily and take to crime but only because they are victims of circumstance. One needs to see them for who they truly are,” he said.
“I got a second chance and guidance from people and that is what changed me. Though I missed fourth, fifth and sixth grades due to the crimes I committed, when I joined school in class 7, the teachers helped me catch up. Everyone deserves a second chance and positive reinforcement,” he said.
He said he did not know there were government commissions that looked into child rights until recently. “The government should allocate funds to give to credible NGOs, to put kids like us through school. They need to do more for juvenile children,” said the IAS aspirant. He sends money to his father who is a mason, though their relationship remains sour.