The Goa State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (GSCPCR) has failed to rescue around 50 vulnerable children from the Bodgeshwar temple fair in Mapusa due to police indifference and denial of protection by them in the rescue operation. The children are vulnerable to a wide range of threats to their safety.
GSCPCR chairperson Sushma Mandrekar told ‘The Navhind Times’ that she, along with a child welfare committee member and non-governmental organisation (NGO) Childline 1098 staff, were made to sit for nearly three hours at the Mapusa police station seeking assistance.
The GSCPCR chairperson was taken aback by the police officials’ indifference and reluctance to cooperate with the Commission team to rescue the children and place them in Apna Ghar. The delegation then met Mapusa police inspector, who assured to look into the matter but could not help.
“We were made to wait for nearly three hours but in spite of all our efforts, we could not find any cooperation from the police personnel on duty and now we fear any untoward incidents may occur,” Mandrekar said.
The GSCPCR team had visited the fair on Tuesday after receiving a complaint from an NGO and found around 50 vulnerable children engaged in trade selling wares, balloons, performing acrobatics and begging.
“These children were in an unhygienic condition and not properly dressed. It appeared that they had not taken bath, neither had food for past many days. We fear these children might have been kidnapped from other states and forced into illegal activities which a police probe could reveal,” said Mandrekar.
The GSCPCR team was also shocked to find a police booth at the fair to maintain law and order but cops enjoying children performing in various acts there. The chairperson of GSCPCR further lamented that even as the temple committee has ensured that the fair area remains plastic-free, no heed is being paid to support and protect the minors in the fair who are highly malnourished and forced into trades.
The GSCPCR has now written to the Director General of Police and the temple committee seeking cooperation in rescuing the minors found outside the temple fair. In her letter, the GSCPCR chairperson has alleged that Mapusa police did not cooperate with her and the team and refused to provide protection to rescue the children present at the fair.