THIRUVANANTHAPURAM:As many as 126 children were rescued from Thiruvananthapuram Central railway station over the past five months (February 1 - June 26) by Railway Childline, which was formed to provide emergency assistance to minors who face various issues, including trafficking.The rescued children belong to various districts in Kerala as well as other states. About 39 children from the state were rescued, while the number of children from other states stood at 87. Of this, 38 were from Tamil Nadu, while Bihar accounted for the third highest with nine.
About 10 of the children were reported to have been missing, while 83 of them had run away from home. Ten of them were employed as child labourers, two of them were trafficked, while one of them was sexually abused.Railway Childline director (Thiruvananthapuram chapter) Fr Thomas P D said there has been a spurt in the number of children being rescued from Thiruvananthapuram Central station after more people were deployed there.
“We have been running a booth at the station since 2009. At that time, we had only two people and the number of children rescued would come up to 150-200 annually. But now, we have 12 people working in different shifts and that’s why there has been a spike in the number,” he said.
Railway Childline volunteers man the entry, exit points and check arriving trains with the help of the Railway Protection Force and Government Railway Police. Kids aged as low as six years were rescued, Fr Thomas said.
Of the rescued, 77 were returned to their homes, while 49 were sheltered at various child care institutions.
Currently, four railway stations in the state are manned by various NGOs to address issues faced by children.Railway Childline is a project jointly run by the Ministries of Railways as well as Women and Child Development.
Railway Childline sources said the children who are found travelling alone and those travelling in groups without guardians were subjected to scrutiny. There were instances where kids from distant states such as Assam were rescued from the railway station. Those who appear to be in need of medical attention are given treatment.
Lost and found
On February 20 this year, Childline helpdesk team got two Kerala-based children *Sabu and *Anila, aged 17 and 16 years, at platform number 1. They were lovers who had eloped from their homes. Their family members were informed and they came with all the documents. Childline provided the children with food, shelter and emotional support. They were produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) where the children said they were not willing to go with their parents. Sabu was somehow sent with his parents on March 15, but the girl remained stubborn and refused to return home. After a few counselling sessions, the girl went home for some days.
On February 2 this year, two siblings named *Ajo (16 years) and *Sadhi (13 years) were spotted with another adult at the railway station here. They were from Vilavankode, Kanyakumari and were going to Kollam for a job in fishing boats. It came to notice that their mother had passed away and father got re-married. Their relatives came to CWC with improper documents. CWC did not send the children with them and instead decided to transfer them to Nagarcoil CWC for continuing their studies. Later, when they were produced before Nagarcoil CWC with medical and child study report, their relatives came there with all the documents. After obtaining their promise that the children won’t send for labour and they will be given schooling, the children were restored to them.