As the Shakti scheme for free travel for women in State-run ordinary buses has kicked in, the Child Rights Trust wants the government to make parental consent mandatory for minor girls.
In a letter to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, the trust has cited a recent incident of children from Bengaluru going to Dharmasthala because their parents scolded them for eating chocolate. The police rescued the children and handed them over to their parents.
The letter states: "We all need to learn from this case, and there is a necessity to enforce some rules during free travel for the benefit of children. Even if they are a little bored at home or school, children may board a bus and go to another city. They may face many kinds of dangers. This is the time to monitor free travel of children.
“Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, many children have not taken a trip for three years. There is a natural desire among children to go to other towns and places of interest for an excursion. Now that the government has allowed free travel, children can easily become victims of child trafficking networks and anti-social forces while pursuing their desire to travel. So, in the interest of children, make it mandatory for minor girls to have a permission letter from their parents while travelling alone, or in a group.
“Parental permission letter must have parental consent along with their signature and mobile numbers. The bus conductor must check the permission letter of the parents in the interest of the children. If children travel without parental permission, the conductor can contact child helpline 1098 or 112.”
Nagasimha G. Rao, Director of Child Rights Trust, told The Hindu, “Every day, we see various children rescued by either police or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at bus stations, railway stations and other places. There is no particular reason for children to run away from home. Even a small scolding from either parent or a teacher is enough. According to National Crime Records Bureau data, in 2021, 2,157 children below the age of 18 were reported missing. Of these, only 1,550 children were traced. Therefore, it is the right time to make parental consent mandatory for free bus travel in Karnataka.”