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Kerala government is likely to hand over to the CBI investigation into the alleged incident of child trafficking, in which 589 children from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal were detained at Palakkad railway junction last week.
The eight persons arrested on charges of child trafficking on May 24 at the junction were taking the children, aged 3-13, to two orphanages run by the minority community in Kozhikode and Malappuram.
The police suspect a well-organised racket regularly supplies destitute children from impoverished regions of north and north-east to Kerala orphanages so that donations from gulf countries keep flowing.
After the Jharkhand government sought a CBI probe into the case, it was learnt Kerala will ask the investigation agency to inquire into the allegations, especially after an orphanage in Malappuram claimed it had been regularly admitting children from other states and only last year took 123 children in from West Bengal districts bordering Bangladesh.
A crime branch team headed by deputy superintendent of police Sudhakaran has also been formed to inquire whether bringing these children to the state involved illegalities.
The issue took a political turn when the ruling UDF's second biggest partner, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), smelled "prejudice" in the FIR.
"Police acted in hurry and put an entire community in bad light," IUML leader ET Muhamed Basheer told a press conference today, adding the party will press for "corrections" in the charges.
"The course of investigation was moving in a direction as if its sole purpose was to malign reputed charity homes," Basheer said.
The IUML's stance prompted Kerala BJP president V Murlidharan to seek an inquiry by a central agency because, he said, the League was "pressuring the government to go slow on investigations".
Meanwhile, Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi said it was a clear case of child trafficking and she has sought a report from the state government.
To substantiate its charges, the Railway Police Force had said the children did not have the required documents such as proper admission papers and certificates related to their age and incomes of their families.
A Jharkhand official accompanying a team that plans to take 150-odd children from the state back alleged the team had found that identity cards of some of the children had been forged.