HYDERABAD: AT least 60 children from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, who were allegedly being trafficked, were rescued while travelling on the Secunderabad-bound Danapur Express on Wednesday, in a first-of-its-kind inter-State operation. 23 of them were rescued from Secunderabad. The operation, which aims to prevent children from being forced into doing informal labour, was jointly conducted by the Labour Department of Telangana, along with various departments and local NGOs from 3 States.
All the children rescued were minors under the age of 14 and were not accompanied by any elder person when they were checked upon. Prior to the rescue in Secunderabad, numerous children who got off at preceding stations were also rescued at Kazipet, Bulandshahr and Nagpur. 3, 9 and 26 children were rescued from these locations respectively, by the respective District Child Protection units.
As of now, no police complaints have been filed, as the employers and operators could not be nabbed.“A source tipped us on their whereabouts right from the time they boarded the train from Danapur. They were being monitored closely. Stringent action will be taken against the offenders,” said Dr E Gangadhar, Joint Labour Commissioner of Hyderabad, who oversaw the rescue. It must be noted that this is the third such instance in 4 years when children from Bihar were rescued on the Danapur Express.
Several other children between the age of 15 to 18 were also rescued. However, they were let off later as the child labour law did not apply to them. The rest were taken to the Boys Home in Saidabad, where they’ll be rehabilitated.
Officials state that many of the children had Aadhaar cards carrying similar details, including their birth dates and places of birth. This has led to the suspicion that they were fake identity documents.
Meanwhile, activists claim that the children looked like they had already been in the labour force. “The police must also work towards nabbing the mafia turning the city into a child labour hub,” said Achyuta Rao of Balala Hakkula Sangham.