A total of 43 children reported missing from various places in Uttar Pradesh and traced to Mumbai headed home on Saturday. The children, mostly in their pre-teens, will be produced before the chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee in Lucknow before being reunited with their families.
All the 43 children either went missing or were working as child labourers in various parts of Mumbai from where they were rescued and sent to the Children’s Home in Umerkhadi, Mumbai.
The Railways arranged a special bogie for the children and volunteers of NGO My Home India. Wearing t-shirts that said ‘My Home India’ for easy identification, the children appeared a sombre lot as they left.
Vivek Choudhury (10) wore a blank look on his face as he peered out of the window. “I was lost in Mumbai for 15 days. I was travelling alone to my sister’s house in Bhopal and I fell asleep during the journey. When I woke up, I found myself at CST station and burst into tears for I knew I was lost. Three women found me crying and took me to the Dongri police station. When I reach home, I will hug my mother tightly and cry in her arms and make her promise to never leave me alone,” said Vivek.
Twelve-year-old Mithun Nayak was rescued by a man and taken to the Dongri police station. “I was travelling to my uncle’s house in Umargaon when I lost my way. My train halted at CST station and I realised the station was not familiar. I just couldn’t stop crying, when an uncle found me on the platform and helped me,” said Mithun.
Himanshu Saxena of My Home India said that 20 days back, they reunited 55 children with their families in Bihar. They have received official permission from the Women and Child Development Department, Government of Maharashtra, to set up offices in every children’s home in the state to help reunite children with their families. “Our aim is to reunite children by tracing their families. Most of the children’s homes are run by the government and often these innocent children are exposed to juvenile offenders, which might turn them into criminals. Missing children have been staying in these homes for years and at times they are even ill-treated. Our job is to provide them with medical facilities, nutritious diet and reunite them with their families at the earliest. We have an aim to reunite more than 1,000 children with their families this year, for which we have set up offices in 48 cities in India.” said Himanshu.
The Mumbai police were an integral part of the rescue operation.
Assistant Commissioner of Police R H Rupavate said, “We had appointed four officers and 40 men for the operation so that the children were taken care of individually. They were taken to Bandra Terminus and escorted by a police van, as part of a security protocol”.