A day after a five-member team of senior labour officers from Jharkhand confirmed that 589 children brought to Palakkad last week from Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal were victims of child trafficking, the Kerala Police on Monday formed a special investigation team of its Crime Branch wing to unravel the mystery shrouding the whole incident.

Crime Branch Dy.SP P. Sudhakaran will lead the team that would take over the case from the Palakkad unit of the Railway Police. Palakkad Superintendent of Police P. Vijayan will supervise the probe.

Meanwhile, the Jharkhand officials continued their interaction with Kerala officials on Monday about the future of the detained children. A final decision on whether and how the children should be taken back to Jharkhand would be taken after Jharkhand Labour Commissioner Maneesh Rangan reaching Palakkad on Tuesday. Teams of officials from Bihar and West Bengal are also expected to join the probe in the coming few days, they said.

The children, reportedly from impoverished families in the three States, arrived at the Palakkad Junction railway station in two batches on May 24 and 25 and were detained by the Railway Police. The Railway Police arrested eight persons under Section 370(5) of the Indian Penal Code on the charge of trafficking in children, who were below the age of 12. The first batch that reached Palakkad by the Patna-Ernakulam express on May 24 comprised 466 children from Bihar and Jharkhand. The second batch of 123 children came from West Bengal and was detained when they reached the station by the Guwahati- Thiruvananthapuram express.

Those who brought the children claimed that they were inmates of the Mukkam Muslim Orphanage (MMO) in Kozhikode. The second batch too was for an orphanage at Vettathur in Malappuram district. The children are now temporarily sheltered in various welfare homes under the supervision of Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

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