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Kids living on platforms most vulnerable

Aamir's (name changed) days are carefully planned. He wakes up at the crack of the dawn and combs through Nizamuddin Railway station to earn his livelihood. Shaswati Das reports.

delhi Updated: May 07, 2012 01:53 IST
Shaswati Das

Aamir's (name changed) days are carefully planned. He wakes up at the crack of the dawn and combs through Nizamuddin Railway station to earn his livelihood.

Armed with a polythene bag, he picks up bottles of every shape and size and runs to the local shops in the vicinity to sell what he has collected.

The exchange fetches him R200, at best, with which he buys a few bottles of whitener fluid and hides under the stairs.

"I sniff about three bottles in the summer and seven in the winter. I went to school till I was six years old, but then I ran away. My father owns a shop, but I seldom go home," said Aamir.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/5/07_05_12-metro2b.jpg

Aamir is among the thousands of children who live on railway stations across the city. Some of them, according to the NGO -- Plan India, fall prey to not just petty crimes and drug addiction, but are subject to police harassment, trafficking and sexual harassment as well.

These children come from the nearby towns and cities and stay at the railway stations — where they can find food and place to sleep easily.

The NGO has rehabilitated 734 children from the railway platforms so far and enrolled them into different de-addiction centres and open schools.

"Most of these children are brought here by their close relatives. From here they are trafficked to places such as Ferozpur in Punjab or sold elsewhere," said Vijay Kumar, national secretary, Badhte Kadam — a programme run by Plan India. Kumar claims that apart from other forms of harassment, young boys and girls are sexually assaulted by traffickers or by those who have been living on the platforms.

The NGO officials also alleged that the police fail to act even though majority of these kids are minors. In a report by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), it was cited that: "Railway stations in India are a breeding ground for several social issues such as child labour and child trafficking and exploitation." It also recommended setting up of child protection panels at stations.