For lakhs of travellers, the New Delhi and Old Delhi railway stations may be just dots on the city’s map, but for thousands of children, they are ‘home.’ It is here where the police find most of the children who go missing.
As per records, at least 3,321 children were rescued from the two stations in the last three years. This year till June, the railway police rescued 323 children.
The railway police have instructions to take any unaccompanied minor to the railway police station. DCP Sanjay Bhatia, who took the initiative of rescuing missing children, said that in 2012 he realised there were many children wandering around the railway stations.
There were lost, separated from their parents, some had fled their homes, a few were from the nearby jhuggis who had come to stay here and got addicted to cheap drugs. As the number of such children went on rising, the railway police decided to rescue and reunite all these ‘missing’ children.
Explaining why most of the missing children end up at railway stations, Bhatia said, “A railway station is like a small township. There are fans, toilets, parked trains, free water and cheap food available round-the-clock. There were cases where the homeless children had started working but stayed at the stations. Many children who flee homes come here to take the trains but end up staying here.”
Many of those who had fled from their parents in nearby jhuggis and were afraid to return home had been reunited with their families. Many who were clueless about their homes were adopted by an NGO.
“It doesn’t end there. We have given a space to the NGO to teach the missing kids at a room inside our police station. A summer camp was also organised for the such children last month,” Bhatia said.
Bhatia says he had several success stories to share. Some of the rescued kids, who were taught at the police stations, have recently appeared for their Class 8 exams from the National Institute of Open Schooling. “They are awaiting their results. I think you should interview them once they pass their exams,” he said.