A new Child Assistance Booth was inaugurated on the 4th platform of Bangalore City railway station at 12:30 pm on 9 July under the auspices of BOSCO, Bangalore. By this the South Western Railway actualized a longtime dream of BOSCO to have a rent free space with adequate facilities for the rescue of children on the platforms. During the inaugural ceremony the findings of a study which contains information on the inflow of children to the city railway platforms and one-minute Promotional Video on CHILDLINE number to be screened on all the railway platforms across the state of Karnataka were also released.
“BOSCO has been doing wonderful works for the past three decades. The type and nature of work they do is overwhelming and heart touching. Preventing street children to go into wrong hands is the incredible work that BOSCO initiated.” said Sri Anil Kumar Agarwal (Divisional Railway Manager, South Western Railway) while inaugurating the centre. He assured that separate facilities would be provided for boys and girls so that their lives could be kept from all dangers and exploitations. He expressed surprise at the fact that children arrive even from other countries like Nepal and Bhutan.
“It is the passion, love and commitment of BOSCO for protecting the lives and rights of children that motivates to do this tiresome job”, said Fr. George P.S, Executive Director of the NGO. “Street children are roofless, rootless, last, least and lost, so get them before anybody get them over,” added Fr. George recollecting the child centric, community empowering programme that BOSCO has been doing over the last 33 years.
It is to be noted that there was a Writ petition filed by Ms. Khusboo Jain in the High Court of Delhi in 2013 with regard to the safeguarding of children who arrive and live at railway stations. Furthermore, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), 2009, laid down the guidelines to be followed while rescuing or repatriating children from the railway stations. The Ministry of Railways in 2013 drafted Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for the protection of Children and their Rights at the Railway stations. Child Assistance Booth at the Railway Platform with certain facilities and services contained in the SOP is a great move.
Among the dignitaries present were Umesh Aradya (Chairperson, State Commission for Protection of Child Rights), Shashikala U. Shetty (Project Director, ICPS), Sunada Arul (Assistant Divisional Railway Manager), Ramesh (Senior Divisional Commercial Manager), Siddaramappa (SP, Railways) and Louis Amuthan (Senior Divisional Security Commissioner), Fr Edward Thomas and Anuradha (Members, Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Karnataka state).
It is estimated that about 50 to 60 new runaway children arrive daily in the city of Bangalore, mostly at the railway station and Bus station. BOSCO has been rescuing and rehabilitating railway children since 1980. From the railway station alone BOSCO has intervened in the life of more than 20000 children in the last five years, providing them services like counseling, family reintegration and other age appropriate rehabilitation.
Since its inception, BOSCO’s presence at railway platforms and on the moving trains in the recent past has led to the rescue and rehabilitation of more than 2 lakhs children and youths. A grand total of 3987 children were rescued from June 2013 to May 2014 from the Bangalore city railway station, out of which 3585 were boys and 402 were girls.
BOSCO has placed 12 full time staff members and several volunteers at the City railway station on a shift basis (24×7) to rescue and rehabilitate the children as soon they land in the city. The rescue booth has place for providing food and clothing to the children, bathing facilities, recreational programs, tracking the families of rescued children, counseling the children, first aid materials and medicines for free distribution to children and files and records of the children. It was with these intentions that BOSCO approached the railway. In 1998 BOSCO opened an assistance centre on the second platform on rent and continued all the above mentioned services till date. With several years of advocacy with the Railway Ministry and the Department of Women and Child Development, Karnataka, the railways has come forward to provide a Child Assistance Booth on the platform free of cost.
S.N. Siddaramappa, SP, who graced the occasion, said that there are children inside the moving trains who do odd jobs including theft, an area BOSCO can explore and in which the police is willing to extend support. “Every citizen should concentrate on rescuing children and it will be good for children to stay with their own parents”, observed Shashikala U. Shetty.
The Child Assistance Booth at the railway can be contacted round the clock on 1098, 080 221 56988 and 9141709720 for any child who is in need of care and protection.