As many as 202 runaway children aged between eight months and 17 years were rescued at the Bangalore City Railway Station during a week-long special drive conducted by a city-based child helpline.
The drive was conducted from March 10 to March 16 in association with the Women and Child Development Department and railway authorities to check the inflow of runaway children at the City Railway Station.
BOSCO, a childline, had deputed 50 volunteers in and around the station round-the-clock during the drive to rescue the children. Of the rescued children, 186 are boys, most of whom fled home due to fear of exams or following quarrels with their families, executive director of BOSCO Fr. P.S. George said .
About 130 children are from Karnataka, 16 from Andhra Pradesh and 13 from Bihar. Seventy-four of the 202 children were picked up between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Officials say this is the time when traffickers are most active.
With an average of 30 runaway children arriving at the city station every day, Fr. George said this means the number arriving in the city is far more as there are other entry points, including the state bus-stands, Cantonment and Yeshwantpur railway stations.
Though there are many helplines active in the city, their work hours are limited, which results in the rescue of only 20 per cent of runaway children.
Giving an example, Fr. George said seven runaway boys from North Karnataka who completed their first PU came to the city in search of jobs to support further studies. The boys lost their valuables. The boys said their families were poor and they left home to earn money. Ninety per cent of these boys did not have any skills and would end up as labourers, he said. “We have recommended to the government to educate the students and train the boys with some skills,” Fr. George said.
The rescued girls, 16 of them, said that too much control by their parents forced them to run away from home, he said.