Stations are a major hub of human trafficking
Known to be major transit points for human trafficking, railway stations will soon get Child Protection Committees (CPCs), as per the standard operating procedure developed by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR).
The committees are being instituted in compliance with a Delhi High Court directive on safeguarding child rights.
The procedure mandates a provision for CPCs, comprising a station manager, superintendent or master, representatives from the Government Railway Police and the Railway Protection Force, a ticket inspector and a section engineer.
“The CPCs at every major railway station will be responsible and authorised to set and ensure the mechanism for care and protection of children at and around railway stations. It will function as a nodal and apex body for provision of all child protection issues at the railway station-level,” said a recent note of the Railway Board.
Instructions have also been issued to establish children assistance centres at railway stations, with a pre-defined provision for food, temporary shelter, clothing, toilet facilities, first-aid and medicines for the children in need.
A woman Railway employee will manage the centre to ensure that girls get proper attention till they are produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). The centre may be managed with the help of non-government organisations.
The Committee, which will be required to hold monthly review meetings, has been made responsible for the upkeep of the assistance centres, arranging emergency support, maintaining emergency contact numbers of stakeholders, monitoring child protection systems, maintaining records of the children and displaying advocacy messages.
It will also coordinate with the CWC and the Juvenile Justice Board, besides ensuring pro-active vigilance on potential child abusers loitering about the stations.
The responsibilities of ticket-checkers have also been outlined; they are to keep a close watch on potential child abusers/traffickers and alert the security personnel accordingly.
The station’s Assistant Manager (Commercial) will be appointed the nodal officer on behalf of the Chairman of the Railway Board.
Railway officials, as part of the unit, will undergo training on issues of child rights and protection.
Several non-government organisations working with victims of child abuse and trafficking have welcomed the initiative, stating that it would help check crimes against minors.
“The Old Delhi, New Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin and, now, the Anand Vihar railway stations are vital transit points used by child traffickers,” said Rishi Kant of NGO Shakti Vahini.
He added: “The children are trafficked into the city from Bihar, Assam, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh for various purposes, including bonded labour in factories and embroidery units. Minor girls are also pushed into prostitution and taken to Punjab and Haryana for forced marriages. The setting up of the Child Protection Committees at railway stations will help curb forced migration and consequent abuse of children.”