A total of 40 children, suspected to be coming to Mumbai to work as child labourers, were taken into custody by the Railway police in a joint operation with NGO Pratham at the Lokmanya Tilak Terminus on Monday.
The police have also detained 20 men who were travelling with the boys and are conducting inquiries with a child labour racket in mind.
According to RPF personnel, the operation was a result of several days of working on specific information about the boys coming to Mumbai.
“We had this information for some days and had been working on it. Officials from Pratham were in regular touch with us,” said Railway Police Commissioner Ravinder Kumar Singal. Pratham programme manager Sharmishta Khandagle added, “We got to know from our Patna branch that a large number of children were on a train to Mumbai to be put to work and immediately notified the police.”
After a four hour stake out at the platform number four of the LTT, the police took the children into custody after they alighted from the Jansadharan Express at around 11:30 am on Monday, which arrived four hours later than its scheduled time. “There were 40 boys below the age of 18 years, all hailing from the same district in Bihar. They said that they came to Mumbai to look for employment opportunities in the city. We are making inquiries with the 20 men that were travelling with them, checking their backgrounds and trying to find out if this was part of a child labour racket,” said Senior Police Inspector Vijay Dhopavkar, Kurla Railway police.
The boys were taken to the Rajawadi Hospital for a medical check up. The police has decided to send seven of them, who are under 12 years of age, to the Mankhurd Children’s home, while the remaining 33 will be sent to the Children’s Home in Dongri. “The boys will be produced before the Child Welfare committee (CWC), who would then take necessary action,” Singhal added.
One of the boys, 16-year-old Mohammed Ali, said, “I was going to work with my elder brother in a garage in Byculla. He came earlier this year and faced no trouble.”