Bhubaneswar: Ministry of Railways (MoR) has directed top East Coast Railway (ECoR) officials to investigate criminal elements exploiting children to beg at Bhubaneswar railway station.
Orissa POST Tuesday published in these columns about “Criminals behind kids begging at rly station”, exposing the criminal exploitation of children at railway platforms and ticket counters. The report revealed that agents come at regular intervals to take the daily collections from the children engaged in begging.
Significantly, MoR immediately responded to the news on the child beggar mafia and sought to know details from Khurda divisional railway manager Brijmohan Agarwal and RPF regarding the issue. Agarwal and IG-cum-chief security commissioner Atul Pathak informed the ministry of their directive to PS Kutty, senior divisional commissioner to investigate the issue. Kutty also informed the ministry that he had instructed the Bhubaneswar RPF officer-in-charge to probe and take necessary action.
However, child rights activists opined that Railways should take more efforts to make railway stations child friendly.
“Although begging is prohibited on railway premises, it is going on at all railway stations across the country. In order to prevent such incidents and making our railway stations child-friendly, the Railways has to maintain Child Helpline cells at all stations,” said Anuradha Mohanty, a leading child rights activist. She added “They (Railways) should also display the helpline numbers at prominent locations properly”.
Similarly, the human rights activists criticised the inaction of state administration on the issue.
“Neither the Labour Department nor the Women and Child Development department maintains information about street children or child labourers in the state. This apart, the state government needs to form a special team to deal with child rights issues,” said Manoj Jena, a core group member of National Human Rights Commission.
Jose K Joseph, OP