Guwahati, Friday, April 30, 2010
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Snehalaya succeeds in rescuing destitutes
Kabita Duarah
 GUWAHATI, April 29 – The Guwahati railway station bustling any time of the day is also the destination of a large section who fall under the category of the vulnerable. This vulnerable group is none but children in need of care and protection.

 Every year a large number of children go missing. They are either trafficked, abandoned or are run-a-ways. Recently the Children’s Assistance Booth set up by Snehalaya rescued an Adivasi girl of 15 years from the company of a eunuch at the railway station.

Officials of the booth said that this girl hailing from a village near Bokajan would have landed in a brothel like so many others who are lured by promises of work outside the State and end up working as commercial sex workers.

“Many children come without any fixed aim or destination while some come with the hope of a better life. Some others are deliberately brought and abandoned. Most of these children fall easy prey in the hands of unscrupulous persons who exploit them for economic gain,” said Father Lukose, director of Snehalaya.

The Children’s Assistance Booth at the Guwahati Railway Station functioning since 2005 has rescued many children with the help of the Government Railway Police (GRP) and the railway authorities. “The railway station is no more safe for children,” said Lukose. Once a child is rescued, every effort is made to trace out the home and parents so that he/she can be restored to them. Otherwise, the child is given institutional care after fulfilling the required formalities.

In view of the increasing number of child trafficking cases, the staff strength of the assistance booth has been increased and strict vigil is being maintained so that no child is exploited.

It needs to be mentioned here that in the month of April alone, about 25 vulnerable children have been rescued at Guwahati Railway Station. Some have been restored back to their parents, while some are still to be reunited with their parents as they are not able to furnish their home address.

Jyoti a girl of 12 was found at Guwahati Railway Station. She said that she was traveling with her aunty from Hojai but got separated in the train and she landed up in Guwahati. When finally the parents were traced out, it was found that she was kept as a domestic help in a home and she had ran away and got lost. Anyway, Jyoti is now back at home and hopefully will not land up as a domestic help elsewhere.

There have also been instances of girls trafficked to the metro’s being rescued at the Guwahati Railway Station. One tribal orphan girl named Sweetie (not real name) aged about 13, who was trafficked to Delhi for prostitution, is now being sheltered at Snehalaya. She had run away from that situation and was found in a Guwahati bound train by a nun who was traveling in the same train. She says she has no one and she is not able to remember her home, as she was taken at a very small age. Initially, she was very petrified and would not speak up. However, slowly after much counseling, she gained confidence and has started talking. She wants to study and grow up well.

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