KARNATAKA

20 children found wandering in City Railway Station

Staff Reporter

BANGALORE: “Father (the caretaker) used to whip me with a rope, and so I ran away from home,” (Government Boys’ Home in Adugodi in Bangalore) said 12-year-old Karthik. He was among the 20 children found by volunteers of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) at the City Railway Station here on Thursday.

“The officials at the Home used to drink the water from tender coconuts grown in the backyard. But when we drank it we were beaten up. Why this different treatment,” asked Karthik, who took shelter on railway platforms after he ran away from home.

Although he had been admitted to a school by a non-governmental organisation earlier, his mother, who stays near Vijayanagar in Bangalore, brought him back and put him to work at a construction site. Traces of whitener still fresh on his fingers indicating his addiction to the chemical, Karthik said, “I am planning to get ‘transferred’ to Chennai where my friend ‘Airport’ is well settled. I can lead a good life with him as we used to share our meals here at the City Railway Station.”

Over 30 a day

Committee Chairman Vasudeva Sharma said not less than 30 children land up at the City Railway Station every day and fall into the hands of touts who send them to various places to work. “These children will spend the rest of their life doing manual labour. The popular perception that many such children are orphans is false,” said Mr. Sharma. Most had parents, he said.

Even as volunteers were bringing children to the CWC members, they also tracked down the parents of a few and handed over the children.

Arun, who is in the eighth standard in a government high school, went to Tirupati last Saturday and was tracked at the City Railway Station on Thursday.

His mother, Lakshmamma, a construction worker staying at Hegganahalli, off Magadi Road, said her son had fallen into bad company at school. “Till the seventh standard he was studying in an English-medium school, and everything was alright. However, we got him admitted to a government school, and there he fell into bad company,” she said.

CWC member Meera Madhav said people should inform the authorities or NGOs when they come across unattended children in public places. “This should be their civic responsibility.” Even the Railways could help NGOs by providing some assistance in the form of offering free return journey to such children, food and the like, she said.

Help from police

Rahim, also a CWC member, said, “The perception of Government Railway Police and Railway Protection Force personnel has also changed towards the volunteers, and they now help NGOs detect unattended children.”

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