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Every day, 5 lost kids found at rly stns in city

In the last five years, 10,181 children from Maharashtra have been found in Mumbai. Most of the children found by the railway police in the last five years are from within the state.

mumbai Updated: Nov 10, 2011 01:28 IST
Puja Changoiwala

Most of the ‘missing’ children found on Mumbai’s railway stations by the railway police in the last five years are from within the state, according to the railway police.

At least five ‘missing’ children are found on the city’s 98 railway stations every day. This includes children who have been abandoned, separated from their parents while travelling, or those who have run away from home, according to the police.

Between 2006 and 2011, 10,181 minors from Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra were found across various stations in the city.

“I recently dealt with a case of an eight-year-old boy who had been abandoned by his stepfather after his mother passed away. The stepfather deliberately left the child at Jogeshwari station because he did not want to take care of him. We took him into custody and admitted him to one of our shelters for children in Deonar,” said ASI G Pathan of Andheri Railway police, who deals specially with cases of lost children.

Apart from the 10,181 children, the police also found 463 children who hailed from outside Maharashtra. Of these, 102 children were from Uttar Pradesh, while around 70 were from Bihar, according to the police.

“The children from UP and Bihar are usually runaways,” said Police Inspector N Shaikh of the CST Railway Police.

“Many of them have told me that they escape from their homes to see the glamour of Bollywood, or to find work as house-helps because they come from poor financial backgrounds,” he added.

Four Nepalese children and one Bangladeshi child were also found on Mumbai’s railway stations between 2006 and 2011. “These children do not enter the country illegally,” said Inspector Shaikh, “they usually go missing when they come on holidays to Mumbai with their parents.”

In addition to the minors, 97 women aged 18 and above, were also found on the city’s railway stations during the same period. The railway police usually take lost persons into custody and admit them to a local observation room until they are reunited with their families.

9,056 children have been reunited with parents

Of the 10,181 minors found on Mumbai railway stations between 2006 and 2011, 9,056 children have been reunited with their families so far. “As soon as a duty officer spots a child who appears lost or if a commuter brings a child to us, we immediately issue wireless messages across the entire state to intercept any reports about missing children. The children, meanwhile, are taken to observation rooms that take care of them,” said ASI G Pathan of Andheri Railway police, who specially deals with cases of lost children.

The railway police said that if the family of a child is located while he is with the police’s observation room, the family has to provide proof that the child belongs to them before he is handed over. “The Bal Kalyan Samiti, a body of railway police representatives, has the final word. If the proof provided is accepted by the Samiti the child is handed over to the family,” added Pathan.

Inspector N Shaikh of CST Railway Police station said that most children who have been separated from their parents are able to provide either residential addresses or phone numbers of their guardians.

In some cases, however, the children cook up stories or give invalid addresses and contact numbers because they do not wish to go back home, Pathan said. “The child will make up stories of being beaten up by his parents. In such cases, we listen to the kids intently and try to win their trust so that they eventually come out with the truth,” he said.

12-year-old from Uttar Pradesh sent back home

Twelve-year-old Kashish Khan was reunited with her family in Uttar Pradesh a fortnight ago, after she was found at Jogeshwari railway station.

A Class 8 student, Kashish escaped from her house in a village in Uttar Pradesh because she wanted to continue her studies. Her family, however, could not afford to educate her further, according to the police.

“When we first found her, Kashish cooked up all sorts of stories saying that she had come to Mumbai with her brother,” said sub-inspector Bhagwan Tajne of Andheri Railway Police.

“She also gave us a fake Mumbai number that we could call up. Eventually, after we admitted her to the Deonar Children’s home, she gave us her Uttar Pradesh address,” added Tajne.

Kashish’s mother then took her daughter back home after providing proof to the Bal Kalyan Samiti in Deonar that Kashish was her daughter.