A group of 15, including 12 boys, who were being taken to Chennai on a train allegedly to be employed as bonded labourers, were rescued by the railway police here on Thursday.
Acting on a tip off, a team of RPF personnel conducted a check on the Rameswaram-Chennai Express and found the 15 boys around midnight. Of the 15, only two were aged around 20 years.
Inquiries revealed that the group was from Thalavanaickenpatti in Kamuthi Taluk of Ramanathapuram. The boys were handed over to the All Women Police Station in Thanjavur where the Special Juvenile Police Unit is functioning. Inspector of the police station Chandra said that of the 15 boys travelling to Chennai, 12 were minors and three were above the age of 20 years. They had boarded the train at Manamadurai.
She added that they were going to work in various shops, including tea shops, shoe-retailers and in various shops on the Marina beach.
“The boys said they are going to work due to family circumstances and are going with the consent of their parents,” she added. Most of the boys had studied up to the eighth standard and only one had completed Plus Two.
“We have produced the children before the Child Welfare Committee and also informed their parents back in their villages,” she added. Once their parents reached Thanjavur, the boys would be handed over to them.
Manikandan, a boy from the group who spoke to reporters, said since there were no rains in their village, it was hard to make out a living for his family. Hence, they were going out to work in the shops. Another boy, S Chinnamuthu, said the crops had failed this year, unlike previous years. “We used to do agriculture work,” he said.
The group included S Manikandan (14), Manithurai (18), C Manikandan (16), S Aathiyappan (16), G Veeramani (15), G Solairaj (17), D Manikandan (16), S Solairaj (16), M Ayyanraj (14), R Sarathkumar (15), V Marimuthu (15), T Ananthappan (18), S Chinnamuthu (20) and V Kannan (22).