Tales of survival

Abhay Singh finds out how street children spend their days and nights defending themselves from danger, and harsh climatic conditions, in the national Capital

 Abhay Singh |  2017-12-30 12:40:16.0

"Sometimes, during worse winters, to save ourselves we burn our clothes and get some relief from fire," said some children living and sleeping on street or railway platforms. This has been the bitter truth for several lives who everyday fight for their survival in the harsh climatic situations in the Capital.

Anil (name changed), a 17-year-old native of Gwalior came to Delhi in search of work but now he picks rags at Hazrat Nizamuddin railway station. "Life is cruel, and in winter I can feel the brutality," said Aakash. Holding a plastic sack which he used as a quilt in winter, he wore only a torn jacket. When asked how he survives Delhi's winter he stated that he collects polythene or papers lying on the road and then burns them to get some relief from the cold. "There are some kind people who give us warm clothes, otherwise winter is quite sleepless," said Aakash.
Next to Anil was his friend Javed another minor, who picks rags from streets of Delhi. He stated that in summer they sleep very early as the trains arrive in the railway station on time and they collect more waste plastic bottles from there and then sell them to scrap dealers earning some money to feed themselves and their families. "It is very tough to sleep in the winter, since the train which is scheduled for 4 pm comes to the station around 11 pm and after which we collect the waste plastic bottles like that we have to wait for several trains to get sufficient amount of bottles to sell them and get food," said Javed.
Aakash, a ragpicker stated that they sleep with animals like dogs or goats to get some warmth and stay protected from cold. "We hold them in the night and feel protected in the night," said Aakash. The situation is equally tough in summer.
Talib (name changed) who lives in Sarai Kale Khan stated that they sleep near flyovers, and to save themselves they burn egg trays nearby them. "We sleep near flyovers and the vehicles which pass by brings the puff of smoke which repels mosquitoes form biting us," said Talib. During monsoon, things became worse for the children as they do not have any place to sleep with the wet streets; sometimes while collecting rags they also slip and get injured.
Around 1 pm on Saturday these children go to a rehabilitation centre run by an NGO named Chetna in South East Delhi, where they meet the counselor, Shaswati. The children eventually engage themselves in different co-curricular activities like dance, watching movies or drawing. Shaswati stated, "After seeing other children celebrate birthdays they also ask us about their birthdays. Most of them want to celebrate but due to poverty they can't so we arrange their birthdays. Most of the children are the victims of drug abuse, so through dance and drawing we try to keep them away from drugs." Most of the children portray the issues of global warming and scarcity of water in their drawings.
"We love to dance and draw as it gives us happiness from inside, " said the street children. Drawing has played a major role in their lives; they can describe a situation better through their paintings than by speaking about it. Few children live with their family in night shelters, but some prefer to sleep on the street as they are often harassed by drunken men inside the shelter. shelter.
The NEW YEAR plan:
For them, New Year does not bring much happiness but like others, they also celebrate January 1. "We are not rich but yes all of us save money and on New Years we contribute and then party by eating sweets or delicious food which we cannot afford every day," said the children.
Abuse and harassment:
Children living in street situation are a common sight in urban India. These kids especially the girls are among the most vulnerable groups living in the country having little access to adult supervision, protection, education, and healthcare. Talking to Millennium Post, the girls living in street stated that they have to face abuse some time from commuters or drunken people. ''They sometimes grab our hands when we sell balloons or other items on the street," said a 17-years-old girl living in Sarai Kale Khan area.
A 14-year-old girl who begs at different red-light crossings in the Capital stated that when they go to parks, drunkards often try to grope them or pass lewd remarks. During nights when they sleep on the street, many face abuse and so some of them have adopted street dogs who alert them when they are approached by strangers at night.
Delhi Police for their rescue:
CCentral Delhi Police apprehended a group of people who were selling solution tubes to the children and getting them addicted to drugs. The accused used to sell the glue to these children for more than Rs 100 and earn more than Rs 1 lakh per month. Once Central Delhi Police found clusters of street children and teenagers addicted to smelling the solution, they hightened picketing and patrolling in the area. Beat staff was also sensitised to be alert and vigilant and keep close watch over the movement of suspicious persons.
Police sources claimed that they started asking the whereabouts of the drug to children under the influence of glue. Daryaganj police got some clue which led to the busting of a chain involved in the selling of illegal fluids. Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (central) Anto Alphonse stated that during interrogation, Noor Mohammad revealed how a gang including juveniles operated by buying the solution from a shop and selling it to different places.
At the instance of Noor Mohammad, four juveniles were apprehended with 20 tubes of solution each. Three majors name Chandan Kumar, Jagdish and Sameer were also caught red-handed and thereafter arrested.
DUSIB protecting homeless :
Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB) have 254 Night Shelters and more than 10,000 homeless people get shelter every day. Every day DUSIB receive complaints through phone and applications after which they rescue those children. DUSIB has plans to connect the night shelters with mohalla clinics so that the people get easy access to medicines and healthcare. DUSIB has 254-night shelters, among which 83 are permanent buildings, 114 portacabins, 56 temporary shelters and one subway. DUSIB has also planned to provide basic healthcare facilities to the people staying in the night shelters.
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Street Children:
The Standing Operating Procedure made by the child rights body with a Delhi Based NGO stated that most of the street children are vulnerable to emotional, physical and sexual abuse due to lack of secure shelter and adult care.
It has often been seen that because of a lack of permanent shelter, "children in street situations" are not recorded in any national survey, and are often called the "hidden children."
Being hidden, they are at a higher risk of being abused, exploited and neglected. Yashwant Jain, member NCPCR, who has been working for the development of these kids said, ''We have started making their Aadhar Cards, visits have been made in Child Care Institutions (CCI), and also for their safety we have asked the State governments help," said Jain. .
NGOs on the situation of children in street situation.
Sanjay Gupta from NGO Chetna stated that The children on streets suffer the harshest conditions. There are physical hardships which come with weather conditions - they suffer the worst with no shelter and protection. No place to keep their belongings, under constant threat of violence and bullying, the children go through a lot of emotional and physical upheavals. Chetna with another NGO I-Partner India have been working for the development of street children
Sunil Kumar Aledia, from NGO Centre For Holistic Development- CHD, stated that in the night sometimes they have to sleep near drains, especially in winters one can easily spot them sleeping near the Yamuna. "In the midst of another winter, these children are the ones who suffer the extreme cold, smog, and pollution," said Aledia. The NGO further claimed that from the year 2004 to 2017 more than 40,000 dead bodies have been found of which 80 per cent are of the homeless. "This data is procured from Zonal Integrated Police Network, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India," said Aledia.

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