New Delhi: Street children are often found travelling alone in trains or engaged in vending, begging, rag-picking and living at railway premises. Sometimes, traffickers use the railways for trafficking of children from remote parts for the purpose of labour or sexual exploitations. These facts are mentioned in the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which is being prepared for the protection of children living in the vicinity of railway areas.
The Indian Railways and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) have come forward to help these children with the SOP. A copy of the 12-page SOP is with the Millennium Post which stated that the reason behind making the guidelines was to ensure every child at risk, travelling or arriving alone or travelling in groups with an adult using railways should be attended and taken care of by the government or non-government stakeholders present at the railway stations.
The SOP has also elaborated the role of secondary stakeholders which are the coolies, vendors, cleaning staff and the commuters, who can play an equally important role in creating a protective environment for the children. The guidelines claimed that the public-address system at the railway station may have inbuilt messages for the safety and security of the children.
The announcements about helpline numbers and child Help Desk at the stations may have inbuilt messages in the regular announcements at the stations. "Station Master or station superintendent may maintain a register to record the details of the children found," claimed the SOP. Train Ticket Examiner (TTE) and Ticket Collector (TC) can identify children in need of care and protection in the trains. They shall remain vigilant.
The railway security, which includes GRP or RPF, shall consult with the TTEs on board and take necessary action to protect the children if they are found travelling alone in the train. According to SOP, every 5 minutes, a child arrives alone at the major railway stations in India including Delhi.
Most of these are run-away children, who live in difficult circumstances and belong to dysfunctional families, poverty-stricken families and broken families. They face over-crowded and abusive conditions at their homes. They use the railway network, which is the easiest and accessible transport to get to the cities with the hope to find a better life.