The railway ministry will set up child help desks at 174 more stations for those needing assistance including lost, abandoned, trafficked and run away children.
Ashwani Lohani, chairman, Railway Board, along with Stuti Kacker, chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) Thursday launched an awareness campaign on protection of such children.
“This campaign has been launched to address the issue of protection of children across the entire railway system and to sensitise all stakeholders, passengers, vendors, porters. Currently, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for railways to ensure care and protection of children in contact with railways is successfully implemented at 88 stations. Now, we intend to implement in 174 stations,” said Lohani at the function.
By the end of this year, the number of stations with such helpdesks is thus expected to touch 262.
“The idea is whenever a child is found at any railway station, be it the smallest one, he or she will be escorted by rail personnel to one of these stations where a standard operating procedure is in place to not only keep the children safe but also to rehabilitate them,” said a senior official of the ministry.
Railways is one of the most common transit points for traffickers, who lure children to cities with the promise of good jobs but sell them into slavery as domestic workers, to work in small manufacturing units, farming or pushed into sexual slavery in brothels.
It has rescued around 35,000 children in the last four years, officials said.
In 2017-2018, it rescued 11,000 such children. On an average, at least 25 children are rescued every day from trains and railway premises, officials said.