Last week about 487 children were seen at Palakkad railway station in Kerala without proper documents and guides and even tickets. When Railway Police came to the scene to find out what was happening that no one can think of. Children were ‘packed’ in three compartments of Patna-Ernakulam Express. They were brought from Bihar and Jharkhand. Bringing to orphanages was obviously an alibi.
Officials believe that it is nothing but child trafficking. 8 people, including adult men and women were arrested who were with the children. There were 10 infants with the arrested – 8 boys and 2 girls. Obviously, the infants were not their children. The arrested claimed that the children were mostly meant for orphanages in north Kerala and were brought with their parents’ consent. However, they could not produce any document in this respect.
Palakkad District Collector, K Ramachandran said that was based on the tip-off, that children are being transported to Kerala. They were brought from Bihar and Jharkhand. Most of the kids were between the age group of 4 to 6 years. Hindi was the only language they could speak.
The Kerala Police has filed an FIR under the Juvenile Justice Act. The investigation is still on as to find out where the children were being taken to. The District Collector has asked the State government to take care of the children until the investigation is on.
Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and Muslim Education Society (MES) are requesting the government to cancel the FIR. ET Mohammed Basheer, General Secretary of IUML, major partner in the Congress-led ruling United Democratic Front (UDF) said that government cannot take case against Muslim orphanages for human trafficking. Home Minister of the State shot back that if they do not like FIR they can get rid of it through legal means. And, if they want to uplift the children in Jharkhand and Bihar, they can definitely go there and run orphanages.
BJP leader Shobha Surendran has drawn the attention of the Union Minister Maneka Gandhi in this regard. Ms Gandhi has stated that it is definitely human trafficking. Legal experts say bringing children from a State to another without proper documents and consent letter is illegal.
Muslim organisations are saying that blaming them for human trafficking is as good as weakening secularism! At the same time none of them are ready to submit before the concerned authorities the documents regarding the kids they look after.
Meanwhile, a team of officials from Jharkhand confirmed that about 500 children brought from their State to Kerala last week are victims of child trafficking. Team, was led by Sunil Kumar, Labour Enforcement Officer. They asserted their stand after interacting with the children accommodated in orphanages.
Most of the children did not have tickets and concerned papers from their State governments.