A TEAM of Railway Protection Force (RPF) and NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) rescued at least 15 children, aged 12-17 years, who were allegedly trafficked from Bihar, from aboard a train late Thursday. An FIR was registered by Government Railway Police (GRP) against 12 persons who were accompanying the children and they have been arrested.
Police said the children were allegedly being brought from Bihar to Punjab to work as bonded labourers in factories as the state has been facing labour shortage due to an exodus of migrant workers which started during the lockdown.
Inspector Anil Kumar, RPF Ludhiana, said that a complaint was received on the Child Line helpline about the children being on board the Karambhoomi Express. A joint team of Bachpan Bachao Andolan and the RPF started checking the train and found some children and when the persons accompanying them were questioned, it was found that they were not their parents.
“They were introducing themselves as their maternal or paternal uncles. All of them were de-boarded at Ludhiana railway station and interrogated. They confessed that they brought the children to Punjab to make them work as bonded and cheap labourers in factories etc as there is extreme shortage of labour here. Families in Bihar are so poor that they agree to send their children to Punjab to get some money,” said the inspector.
He added that all 12 persons were arrested and an FIR against them was registered at GRP Ludhiana under the sections 370 (buying or disposing of any person as slave), 34 (act done with common intention) of IPC, section 79 of Justice Juvenile Act and section 3 of the Child Labour (Prohibition) Act.
Police said the children went to a Children’s Home in Shimlapuri and will be presented before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) which will inform their parents and hand over their custody to them.
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