Chennai: Huge jump in children rescued from railway stations
Chennai: The number of children rescued from railway stations by Chennai district’s special juvenile police unit has almost doubled in a year’s time, according to data from the railway police.
The number of runaway kids rescued by the railway police in Chennai Egmore, Coimbatore, and Central subdivisions, were 1,250 in 2015, while 2,128 kids were rescued in 2016.
Chennai Egmore sub-division consists of five major stations — Tambaram, Egmore, Mambalam and Central sub-division of stations of seven stations including Chennai Central, Avadi, Korrukkupet, Royapuram.
Stations like Chennai Central and Egmore, which see lakhs of footfalls daily, have seen a drastic increase in the number of children rescued in 2016 as compared to 2015.
In 2015, 188 children from Egmore, 309 from Chennai Central and 91 were rescued from Katpadi. In 2016, the number of children rescued from each of these stations stood at 301, 923 and 149.
The Chennai district comprises railway stations in three subdivisions, Chennai Egmore, Coimbatore and Central, and children rescued by policemen are then produced in front of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) or returned to their parents in case a missing report has been filed for the rescued kid.
According to railway police personnel, the network of policemen monitoring railway stations for runaway kids has grown. “There are meetings between all stakeholders, including the CWC, district child protection unit officers, NGOs and railway staff, every three months,” the official said.
The CWC, which provides counselling for children, also decides if the children should be handed back to their families or be rehabilitated at state-run homes.
“We record movement of all kids even if they are just roaming around on the station. There have been incidents when children come directly from their schools or homes, which are within a short distance from the stations,” said a government railway police official.
A number of kids arrive at the railway stations and are found straying, with or without the intent of running away, railway police officials said.
Rise in kids from other states at stations
There has been an increase in the number of runaway kids who arrive from states other than Tamil Nadu at the major stations of Chennai like Egmore and Chennai Central.
The total number of children from other states rescued from railway stations in Chennai district, including Central, Egmore and Coimbatore sub-divisions, was 534 in 2016, as against 349 in 2015.
A strengthened network of policemen is available at major stations like Chennai Central and Egmore. Childline, which is a 24/7 help line available for issues related to child protection, has also opened centres at these stations where children can be taken care of before being handed over to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
According to officials in the government, there are kids under the age of five, who are found abandoned at trains and in stations. “For such kids, we issue advertisements in the media and if no one comes forward in 15 days, the babies are sent to two homes in Chennai for adoption, as part of the cradle baby scheme,” said an official.
The number of these rescued kids having a matching missing person’s FIR filed is a small fraction. Of the total rescued from the Chennai district, only 17 kids in 2015 and 20 kids in 2016 were found to have missing person’s FIR filed.
“Counseling is very important in these cases. There have been kids who are misled for a number of reasons and end up in the city, including reasons like love failure,” said David Paul, child protection unit officer of Kanchipuram district.
He added that the state has been working actively with stakeholders like auto and cab drivers and railway staff to keep a check on children lurking around at railway stations and bus stands near railway stations.