The Government Railway Police, who rescued the children, are conducting a programme called Udhayam to train porters, sweepers, vendors and other staff at railway stations to identify children who are lost, officials said
The Tamil Nadu Government Railway Police (GRP) has rescued a total of 11,244 children from railway stations and trains between 2016 and 2021. Of these, 2,600 were handed over to the parents and 8,644 to the child care homes.
The GRP consists of two districts — Chennai and Tiruchi and together they have 47 GRP stations. Each station has a woman sub-inspector and two women constables to handle children who have either run away from their homes after fighting with their parents, those in conflict with law or those who are trafficked.
“We conducted ‘Operation Smile’ between February 1 to 15 at railway stations all over the State and a total of 1,080 children were rescued and handed over to their parents,” said a senior GRP officer. C. Sylendra Babu, DGP, Railways, handed over appreciation certificates to the women police personnel who rescued the children as part of the operation.
Apart from the 1,080 rescued during Operation Smile, the GRP has rescued 1,106 children in 2021. Out of these, 902 were from railway stations in Chennai and the remaining in Tiruchi divisions.
“We have been conducting a programme called Udhayam to train porters, sweepers, vendors and other staff at the railway stations on how to identify children who are lost. They too bring such children to us,” said Mr. Sylendra Babu. He said that the women police in the GRP stations have also been trained on whom to contact and what to do upon rescuing a child. “They coordinated with the Child Welfare Committees or NGOs and ensured that the kids are handed over to the parents or child care homes,” he added.
Meanwhile GRP officers said that they are also conducting regular meetings with school children to create awareness about the danger of running away from home and also about crimes they can be subjected to.
“People can contact Railway Police helpline — 1512 and 9962500500 for all type of crime and security-related complaints. Regarding runaway children, people can mail [email protected],” said a police officer.
(ChildLine operates a toll-free helpline for children in distress -1098)