A 16-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl, who are suspected to have eloped from their home in Jharkhand, were caught by a ticket collector (TC) at Surat railway station on Tuesday morning.
The TC, Santosh Singh, spotted the children and asked for their tickets. When the children failed to show him the tickets, the TC enquired as to who they were. The boy claimed that they were siblings, however, their Aadhaar cards revealed that they were not related.
When the official warned them of consequences, the children told him they were on their way to the house of a relative of the boy in Mumbai and were looking for a ticket window.
The TC then contacted the relative, who claimed that the two were in a relationship and had eloped their village in Jharkhand. The relative said that the boy’s father was the sarpanch who would not have accepted their relationship, so the two had eloped.
Talking to The Indian Express, Singh said, “Last month I participated in a training session in Delhi where an official told us that child trafficking incidents were on the rise across the country and Railways were the preferred medium of transport for it. He told us to remain alert. The children looked suspicious and lied. So I informed the authorities at Surat Railway station and later handed them to the Railway police.”
The railway police later handed the children over to Navsarjan Child helpline volunteers.
According to counsellors at the child helpline, the children confirmed the elopement narrative of the boy’s relative in Mumbai and were counselled.
Co-ordinator of the child helpline Krishna Mandaviya said, “We have counselled both of them and found that they were in a relationship. The boy’s father is the village sarpanch and they feared that their relationship will not be accepted. So they eloped on September 8. They later got train tickets to Mumbai.”
The couple had eloped with Rs 5,000 but were left with just Rs 500, when, according to sources, they met a man from their village on the train. The man, according to the children, gave them shelter when they arrived in Surat on September 9. However, fearing that the man might inform their parents, the two escaped to Surat railway station on Tuesday where they were caught by Singh.
Upon consultations with the Child Welfare Committee, the two have been sent to children’s homes.
Surat RPF official Ishwar Yadav said, “We have contacted their parents. We don’t know if they had filed any complaint.”