Officials are now focusing on rehabilitating the 17 children rescued from agriculture fields in Thalaivasal block.

Since cases have been registered against three farmers under Section 367 (slavery) of IPC, officials at the Integrated Child Protection Project are exploring the possibility of claiming Rs. 20,000 each to the family members of the children.

Child Welfare Committee chairperson A. Xavier said that rescued children would be handed over to welfare committers in respective districts the children hailed from.

Most of the children were from Tiruvannamalai and Villupuram districts, a meeting with officials there would be held on October 22 to prevent migration. P. Balamurugan, Child Protection Consultant, UNICEF told The Hindu that instead of rescuing them, preventing migration would be better.

Counselling should be given to the children and their parents.

Farmers who have employed children have now started to send them back to their native places fearing action.

Officials said that the exact number of children returning could not be known as they were being sent home in the night hours.