It seems that railway stations in Mumbai have become a shelter for runaway kids. According to a Government Railway Police (GRP) report, since the year 2006, 7,942 children who had fled from their homes have been found at railway stations across the city.
These children fall in the 10-15 age group. The railway police are making their best efforts along with some NGOs to help these kids return home.
The police have been keeping a track on the figures of runaway children for many years, and a special team has been given the responsibility of handling such cases. “Every year, the numbers of such children are only increasing. We have a separate team to solve such cases. We are also in touch with a few NGOs that help us locate and send such kids back to their homes,” said a senior official from the railway police.
According to the police, a majority of the kids are from north India.
“When we find a child, we talk to them to see if they reveal their address or place of origin. Otherwise, we track down their hometowns, and call the parents. Only after a proper interrogation do we hand over the custody of the child to the parents,” added the official.
Out of the 7,942 children, 5,587 are boys and 2,355 are girls. The authorities have managed to send 6,817 back to their parents. The remaining have been sent to reform homes in the city.
The police say there are many reasons why the kids run away. “Some of them are attracted to the city and come here to become a film star. Some arrive to work and earn money. Others want to get away from abusive family members,” explained the official.
Rajendra Pal, inspector in-charge of the women and child cell in the GRP, said “The basic reason why these children run away from their homes is poverty. We are trying hard to reunite these kids with their parents.”
Number of boys found on railway stations in the city
Number of girls found on railway stations in the city
Number of children sent back home by the GRP
GRP to the rescue
In the past, the GRP has rescued many runaway children and sent them home:
Missing boy found in Vasai: The GRP managed to locate a two-year-old boy in Vasai, after he was reported missing on February 1 this year. Baby Pintu was lost while travelling with his mother, who lost him at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST). After an FIR was filed on February 17, the GRP found the boy in a crèche at Vasai.
Boy who ran away twice: Two years ago, a 10-year-old boy ran away from his Kandivli home. He was found, in an injured state, by GRP officials at CST. They admitted him to J J hospital, from where he ran again. The officers found him again at Mulund station and returned him home.
GRP identify kidnapped baby: In 2008, a woman at CST kidnapped a couple’s five-month-old baby, Sultana. The parents had registered a case with the GRP. The Versova police found the baby a few days later, and the GRP identified her, and helped her reunite with her parents.