A policeman monitors passenger movement on an LED screen inside the child assistance centre at Ranchi station on Thursday. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Better late than never.
Smartened by the alleged trafficking of minors from Jharkhand to Kerala, the CID is planning to launch a gender and child resource centre at its headquarters to keep regular tabs on unaccompanied children at Ranchi and Hatia stations.
S.N. Pradhan, the additional director-general of CID, on Thursday said the centre in association with Unicef would debut within a month. Until then, a child assistance centre — equipped with LED monitoring and toll-free helpline 18003451091 — has been floated by the railway police to maintain station vigil.
The security tizzy follows the rescue of some 500 children, including over 150 from Jharkhand’s Godda district, from Palakkad station in the southern state on May 25.
“Both trains and railway stations need to be closely monitored to prevent trafficking of underprivileged children from this tribal heartland,” Pradhan emphasised on Thursday.
He said for the upcoming resource centre, they would take help of Plan India — a nationally registered NGO in Delhi that works towards improving lives of destiny’s children in India — and United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund.
“The centre will be manned by five members of staff. It will help CID sleuths and railway officials trace the source, transit point and destination of trafficking,” he added.
For now, the ADG (CID) said they were taking help of the child assistance centre. “We have not only put the GRP on extra alert, but are also co-ordinating with the two policemen who are monitoring camera footage at the station booth,” he told The Telegraph.
R.C. Behera, on duty at the assistance kiosk, said they had strict instructions from the CID to watch every passenger, especially those with children. “If we find children in a group, we have been told to report the matter to CID without delay.”
He added that every month they handled at least three-four cases of missing children.
Pradhan further said that the state labour and social welfare departments were busy co-ordinating return of some 129 children whose identities had been verified by the Godda administration.
“An eight-member state team, including labour commissioner Manish Ranjan and Jharkhand State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) member Sanjay Mishra, is also probing the angle of child trafficking to Kerala’s orphanages,” he added.
What more should be done to thwart mass migration of minors?