Bhubaneswar: The traffickers mostly use the rail route to transport children from one state to another if railway data in the recent past are any indication. They do it to evade arrest as there is little chance of detection on these crowded trains. Moreover, travelling by bus is no longer safe with police keeping a strict vigil on state roads.
According to available data, the number of children being rescued from railway stations is increasing every year. East Coast Railway (ECoR) sources said 135 minors were rescued in 2012-1; 235 in 2013-14; 273 in 2014-15 and 564 in 2015-16 from railway stations under its zone.
The children are rescued from trains and railway stations by the railway protection force (RPF) and the government railway police (GRP) respectively.
The RPF rescued 156 children in 2011-12 and the number rose sharply to 564 during 2015-16.
The GRP sources said 132 children were rescued from the clutches of traffickers between 2011 and April this year.
The sources said most of these children were rescued from Berhampur railway station. “Berhampur has become a transit point for the traffickers. They use small stations like Balugaon, Berhampur and Rayagada to evade arrest,” said a senior GRP official.
State convener of Campaign Against Child Labour and Berhampur childline director Sudhir Sabat said his organization rescued 146 minors and several of them from Berhampur railway station, last year. “Trafficking has become a major problem in south Odisha. Children from Gajapati, Ganjam and Kandhamal districts are trafficked to other states through Berhampur and Palasa railway stations. Similarly, children from Koraput and Rayagada districts board trains at Rayagada railway station,” he said.
Sabat said the traffickers mostly use rail route for inter-state trafficking. “They persuade poor parents by promising employment to their children. These children are either sold or engaged in hazardous units,” he added.
ECoR chief public relations officer J P Mishra said all stations have been asked to stay alert to any suspicious activities and inform GRP or RPF about them.
According to the White Paper tabled in the assembly on May 10, the state government has opened 37 Integrated Anti-Human Trafficking Units (IAHTUs) to fight the menace, the sources added.