NGO representatives at the news meet in Ranchi on Wednesday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Ranchi, Aug. 13: Nine boys between nine and 14 years, rescued in May from the streets of Bangalore selling pani puri and reunited with parents in Koderma, are currently lifting bricks and not schoolbags in the absence of any state rehab initiative these past three months.
Koderma-based social organisation Samarpan, collaborating with the administration, got the children back home from Bangalore, but the nine children — their age covered under the Right to Education Act — couldn’t manage to go to school.
Representatives of Samarpan, Campaign For Right To Education in Jharkhand (CREJ) and CRY alleged before the media today at Ranchi’s Satya Bharti auditorium that Koderma’s child welfare committee, local administration and district labour and district social welfare officials had showed no initiative.
CREJ convener Neeraj Kumar said that the boys, all belonging to Domchanch block of Koderma, had been lured from homes by middlemen known to the parents and promised “light work and schooling” but made to work as full-time pani puri vendors in Bangalore.
“Once rescued and brought home, the boys were neither given the mandatory counselling by the child welfare committee nor clearance certificate by the labour department that would enable their parents get job benefits. They haven’t been sent to schools. The children are back to work, this time as brick lifters,” Kumar said.
Echoing Kumar’s views, Indramani Sahu, secretary of Samarpan, rued no one was bothered to monitor missing children from villages as well as their rehab in the event of a rescue.
CREJ member Manorama Ekka chipped in: “If children don’t get any benefits, how does the rescue make any difference?”
When The Telegraph contacted Koderma district commissioner K. Ravikumar, he claimed he had done all he could. “I have written to the DSE and BDO on July 21 to enrol the children to schools,” he said.
DSE Jitendra Kumar Sinha said Domchanch block had nine primary schools for 24 villages but all were reeling under an acute manpower and textbook crunch.
“I have spoken to the headmasters. I am doing my best,” he said.
State Commission for Protection of Child Rights member Sanjay Mishra said he was aware of the case. “We have received a report on the nine Koderma children from the NGOs concerned. We will speak to Koderma DC K. Ravikumar on why the rescued children were denied all the benefits,” he promised.