With a railway childline kiosk, shelter homes for kids, and other beneficial facilities, Sealdah railway station has finally been declared a child friendly station. The station was known to be used as the transit point for child trafficking.
Sealdah railway station – a place where many trafficked children and girls are brought before they are further sent for “business” to other states, has now become a child-friendly station.
The Sealdah railway station now has a railway childline kiosk which will provide 24×7 assistance to children who are lost or are in distress.
In addition to this, a patrolling team of 12 members will keep an eye open for trafficked children and will play a crucial role in rescuing them.
In a mission to make 20 railway stations child friendly, three stations have been chosen from West Bengal, and Sealdah is the first one to get the standard operating protocol for protection of children. After Sealdah, New Jalpaiguri station will be declared child friendly as well.
The kiosk will be operated by an NGO, the Child in Need Institute (CINI), in collaboration with Women and Child Development Ministry and the railway board and is facilitated by the Childline India Foundation.
Childline already operates a helpline – 1098 – for alerts on missing or trafficked children. Indian railways has also given a plot near the railway station where rescued children will get shelter. After immediate intervention, and giving the kids shelter, the next step will be to reach out to their parents.
CINI has already been running shelters for rescued children with a capacity to accommodate about 50 kids day and night. Along with the shelter, the children are also provided with facilities like food, education, health and counselling. After “proper investigation” and consent of Child Welfare Committee, they will be sent back to their families.
To make sure that children do not fall prey to the trafficking in the future, CINI is training vendors, hawkers, porters and others to ensure that the children are safe inside the station.
This step is taken to encourage people to report anything which they find wrong or unusual. It is expected to reduce child trafficking as most of the trafficked children pass through railways stations.