19 March, 2015
Some facts & figures about Indian Railways:
The Indian Railway is one of the world's largest railway networks with 115,000 kms of track over a route of 65,000 kms and 7,500 stations. It operates around 11,000 trains everyday, of which 7,000 are passenger trains. The Indian Railways is the world's ninth largest commercial employer, with over 1.55 million employees. The Railway has over 239,281 freight wagons, 59,713 passenger coaches and 9,549 locomotives. The total numbers of passenger bookings during 2013-14 stood at 8,535 million. The Indian Railways (IR) carries over 25 million passengers daily.
Human Trafficking transit and Indian Railways:
The other side of the coin is this: The Indian Railways is also the largest, fastest and most reliable carrier for traffickers across the country. Several thousands of children get trafficked every year through the well networked railways in India. In fact, Police sources say as many as 4000 children are being trafficked out every month for work from Bihar alone every year!
Some 70,000 to 120,000 children get lost or abandoned every year at the country's railway stations and become vulnerable to trafficking, a racket that draws heavily on railway infrastructure.
Response from the Govt.:
Having recognized this, the Govt. has begun talking about Child Protection Panels at Railway stations. http://nlrd.org/childs-rights-initiative/articles-on-child-rights-violence-against-children/railway-stations-to-get-child-protection-panels
Another welcome move is the efforts from the ministry of railways. They have prepared a standard operating procedure (SOP) to ensure protection of children at railway stations and prevent human trafficking. In the first phase, 20 railway stations across the country have been identified where the SOP will be implemented.
The SOP has the provision of making the selected railway stations child-friendly and give training to TTE, GRP and RPF jawans and station master on how to deal with lost children and identify whether a child is being trafficked.
They will be trained to identify children who are alone, lost, scared or if a big group of children is going with only one or two adults. If any such child is found they will immediately be taken care of and child welfare committee will be informed.
As per the guidance of SOP, a special room will be prepared for rescued children where there will be provision for food, lodging and playing so that they don't feel scared.
Purnata Strategy: Increase risk to traffickers on transit routes
As part of the Prevention strategy of Purnata, we intend to surveillance set up teams in Mumbai, Delhi & Kolkata railways stations to do pre-sale rescues. Railway stations and bus stations are the entry and exit points to the city. We will soon be engaging with the Govt. to ensure we can work with and bring about greater cohesion in this effort to thwart the plans of traffickers on transit routes. Even though we cant do too much to punish the traffickers we would have at least saved children who would otherwise been sold to a life of misery, abuse and brokenness.
Read some more news on this issue: