Ranchi, June 23: Almost two weeks after they were rescued from an allegedly unauthorised orphanage in Kerala’s Kollam district, 21 Jharkhand children hailing from Jamtara will return home on Thursday, each having spent between one and four years in the southern state.
Junking their earlier plan of sending the children to Howrah, Kerala officials are now directly reaching them to Jamtara via Patna-Ernakulam Express.
The children will board the train tomorrow and alight at Chittaranjan station, near Jamtara, two days later.
Confirming this, Jamtara social welfare officer Javed Ansari Idirsi said: “Kollam authorities this afternoon officially informed us about the return trip of the 21 children. They added that a special coach has been booked and that an armed team from Kollam will escort 21 children.”
The rescue of allegedly trafficked children from Jharkhand, Bihar and Odisha, stranded at a station in Palakkad district in Kerala this May, ended up baring the regular exodus of hundreds of children from poor Muslim homes to Kerala orphanages.
On June 10, a raid at Perayam Jamaliya Arabic College in Kollam, allegedly an “illegal orphanage”, revealed 23 children lodged in “unhealthy surroundings”.
Two were from Malda district in Bengal, while 21 were later identified as originally from Jamtara.
They were not recent arrivals, having stayed for tenures ranging from a year to four years in Kerala.
A special investigation team (SIT) of the police from Kollam, which came to Jamtara on June 20 and stayed on for three days to speak to parents, professed surprise that there was not a single related missing complaint in thanas.
Officials in Jamtara and Kollam were both startled by the lack of formal complaints.
“It is obvious that parents are sending the children,” Jamtara social welfare officer said. “When parents are involved, it becomes difficult to monitor this practice.”
The SIT team from Kollam headed to Malda last night.
Godda district, from where many children, including girls — some as young as five — had been found stranded at Palakkad in May and at least 128 officially brought home this month in two batches of 119 and nine, is now planning a full family rehab.
“The children need schools, while their families desperately need the benefits of government welfare schemes, including homes and pensions so that their parents don’t send them off again. We have also asked panchayat heads to keep tabs on the status of children in villages,” Anil Kumar Tirkey, Godda social welfare officer, said.