Four hours and 15 minutes. That is how long it took a man to safely hand over a destitute 11-year-old child to the Delhi Police.
Mughees Ahmad, a 39-year-old accountant, was on his way home on Wednesday when he spotted a small child standing outside the Chandni Chowk metro station. Ahmad, who lives in Khaari Baoli, saw something in the kid that made him talk to him.
“I went up to him and asked him why he was standing there alone. He was, by no means, the only destitute there but we both looked at each other at the same time and I wanted to know what he was doing there. He said he was 11 years old and was an orphan. He had recently landed in Delhi and was looking for work. This broke my heart and I decided to take him to a children’s home or an NGO,” said Ahmad.
This was at 6.30 pm. Ahmad took the young boy to the Lahori Gate police station where the police officials laughed at him and asked him to take the little boy home if he cared so much.
“When I told them that I had found him outside the Chandni Chowk metro station they started talking to me about jurisdiction and asked me to go to the Chandni Chowk police station. Once I reached there, a group of police personnel ridiculed me and again asked me to raise the child as my own. I am a man of limited means and already have two children. How can I take care of another?” Ahmad added.
A constable standing outside the police station asked Ahmad to go to Tiz Hazari to a shelter run by Salaam Balak Trust, an NGO. The officials at the NGO told him to call the 1098 helpline since they can’t take in a child without the intervention of the police.
“After struggling with that for some time, the man on the line asked me to call the police control room. Finally, the police agreed to take the child under their care after the PCR reached the spot. They told me the child will be taken to the Civil Lines police station from where the Child Welfare Committee will decide where to place him,” Ahmad said.
This was at 10.45 pm -- four hours and 15 minutes after he first met the child.
“This kid had been running from pillar to post for the list five years and no one noticed him. We have become so immune to the sight of young children working and begging that we do not even give them a second thought,” he added.