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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Children 'rescued' from railway platforms in Mumbai

The project called 'Outreach' by the NGO started its operation on 5th of October 2006, to save children from being Child Labourer, writes Soumitra Ghosh.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2007 19:12 IST
Soumitra Ghosh
Soumitra Ghosh

Amit, Amita,Nitesh and Dilip were horrified, tears rolling down their chins, eyes popping out in fear as they were dragged to be 'Rescued' by an NGO (Pratham) on Wednesday morning at the Kurla Terminus,Mumbai.

They were among the 232 children picked up from 25 different stations on the three different lines of the city, five of them were under the age of five, and one aged two.

The project called 'Outreach' by the NGO started its operation on 5th of October 2006, to save children from being Child Labourer.

They rescued more than 250 children on their first drive. But unfortunately their 2nd drive on Thursday upset them a lot when they found the same children in their custody in a large number.

As the clean white T shirt clad workers of the NGO approached the kids begging or polishing shoes on the platforms they chose to run for their life than to be rescued. But their legs were too small to save themselves from being rescued and the media who were informed about this in advance also were blocking their way.

The scene at Mankhurd Children's Home was even worse; about 100 children were locked inside a room and bare-footed parents begging to get back their children. The financially backward parents were being pushed back from the verandah by the local police on request of the NGO officials.

Sonu (12) was yelling from the room as his father Roshan Hemtia, a bedsheet vendor who came from Ludhiana on the 5th of this month with four other families, all bed sheet sellers, was asking why his son along with other four of his clan were picked up from the Kurla terminus.

According to them the kids went inside the station to buy Pav (bread). Naseem Bano (28) a resident of Indra Nagar Zopadpatti, got back her 2 year old son Salim after nine hours but was denied her eldest son Chand (7).

Naseem's physically handicapped husband needs Rs 25000 for treatment, she is the only earning member who works as a domestic aid could not take her sons to the work place and left them at the nearby station, from where they were rescued. 
Isnt it brutal? Ms Farida Lambay, Vice principal of College of Social Work and Trustee of Pratham is not ready to buy. "Firstly it is not Pratham alone, we are working with the government and we have tried everything to convince the parents not to send their children for begging or earning by any means but they don't listen and our government is firm on giving children the right to study and a good life.

We want to rehabilitate those children as well as their parents. But we are not giving any financial assistance or support. I don't think they are that poor, in Mumbai everyone can afford to send their kids to school and we ensure that they get this facility but beyond that we can't do anything."

According to Project coordinator Suellena Santiago the infants below five will be released on Thursday but the other 227 kids will be kept at the home for fifteen more days.

The families of the five children who came from Ludhiana (showed their railway tickets) wondered how they can know the rules of this state so that they are not 'rescued' in this manner in future, " Saab meherbani karke yeh tho batao ki ish shahar ki kanoon kya hai!"

The parents at the Mankhurd Childrens Home were terrified to know that all those 100 kids will be staying in the same room and extremely worried about their conditions as they were given one bada pav each through out the day.

Lazma Sheikh, whose son Saiza (8) goes to school everyday, wonders why he was picked up by the NGO who wants the children's education so badly.

Vinod Ladhu, a flower vendor at Borivali and father of Manish (11) and Vishal (9), both picked up from Borivali station, is worried whether his children will be able to take this trauma for fifteen days, " Aaplog fotu khicho, mera bachche pagal ho jayega tho kya, yeh logon ko toh paisa milega na foreign se" says Vinod.

First Published: Feb 15, 2007 19:10 IST

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