Three children are relegated to the city’s teeming dustbins every day — dead or alive. Some of them, such as a one-year-old female toddler who was found abandoned at a public toilet in AIIMS as the country celebrated 63 years of being a republic, are found alive.
Others, such as a newborn girl child who was found bleeding on the train tracks at the New Delhi Railway Station on Children’s Day last year, however, are not as fortunate."In the year 2010, 124 cases of children being abandoned were registered. Last year, 134 such cases were detected. While lost children are claimed in most cases, no one comes forward looking for abandoned children," said a senior police officer, adding seven out of 10 abandoned children are girls.
The Delhi Police, in fact, recovered as many as 111 lost children from different parts of the city between January 1 and January 30 — more than three children per day. These abandoned children, who come into spotlight every now and then, are victims of helpless parents and a burdened system that is proving to be less and less adequate in providing support to them.
According to an RTI filed by NGO Pratidhi, 745 children were abandoned in 2010. Most of these children were found in northern and central Delhi.
“Despite a law against abandonment, the number is rising day by day. Of the total number of children abandoned, more than 70% are girls,” said Raaj Mangal Prasad, chairperson, Child Welfare Committee, Lajpat Nagar.
While the Juvenile Justice Act has various provisions to provide a home for the children, the awareness and implementation is lacking. According to Prasad, the highest number of children who are abandoned are between the ages of 2 and 4.
“They are left in crowded markets and railway stations by parents who are too poor. We have come across cases of single mothers abandoning children when they decide to get remarried,” Prasad said.
The other two categories are of children between 0 and 1 years — mostly abandoned by unwed mothers in hospitals and dustbins.
Children above the age of four are mostly girls, who are abandoned because the parents cannot take care of them anymore.
“While city children are able to provide some useful information about their parents which helps us track them in a majority of cases, those from small towns and villages fail to do so,” the officer said.