Police intercepted 156 minors at New Delhi railway station while they were travelling to Gujarat for studies

What appeared to be a case of large-scale trafficking of children, who were intercepted by the police at New Delhi railway station on Friday, turned out to be a journey undertaken by 156 minors from Bihar and Nepal to study at a madrassa in Gujarat. The drama unfolded when the police got an anonymous call saying that children were being trafficked on board the Firozpur-Mumbai Janta Express. The minors first got off a train at the Anand Vihar station and were then taken to the New Delhi railway station to catch a train to Gujarat.

Acting on the tip-off, the police, in coordination with a non-government organisation, tracked down the children. While 22 minors are from Nepal, the rest are from Katihar, Saharsa and Araria in Bihar. “They were accompanied by 11 adults. Since all the children could not be produced before the CWC, we requested CWC chairman Sushma Vij to visit the railway station for the proceedings,” said an officer.

Accordingly, the CWC chairman and two Committee members interviewed the children, aged between seven and 15 years, and the adults. “They said they were on their way back to a madrassa at Bharuch in Gujarat after Id vacations. Most children were enrolled with the educational institution,” said Ms. Vij.

The CWC chairman said: “It was certainly not a case of human trafficking. However, we wanted to conduct a thorough inquiry and crosscheck with their parents. Accordingly we drafted an order directing that they should be kept at a care home. But then some community leaders from the nearby areas of Jama Masjid and Nabi Karim reached there along with their supporters and said the situation would get aggravated if the children were not allowed to go. Following discussions, and to avoid any trouble, we decided to issue a fresh order restoring them to the adults travelling with them. We also crosschecked with the Bharuch Deputy Superintendent of Police about the madrassa before issuing the order.”

Saying that the children belong to poor families, Ms. Vij said it would not have been possible for their parents, especially those from Nepal, to come to the Capital for verification.

Another official wondered why children from Nepal were being taken to Gujarat for studies. “It does not seem reasonable. If educational institutions wish to extend support to children from poor economic background in Nepal, the purpose would be better served if they set up a centre in the same country,” he said.

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