63 Indian children rescued in major anti-trafficking operation
More than 60 children have been rescued by police and child rights groups in India after a huge anti-trafficking operation.
Twenty-three people were arrested at Old Delhi railway station after a tip-off that a large group were travelling on a train.
The 63 children rescued were aged from seven to 17 and most of them were from the northern states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. None of them had ever been to school.
Sanjay Bhatia, Deputy Commissioner for Police (Railways) said today that child rights groups were told the alleged traffickers and children were on a train arriving yesterday from Raxaul in the northern state of Bihar.
He told Thomson Reuters Foundation: “We worked closely with the NGOs to ensure that we did not miss them when they arrived.
“It was a big operation in terms of rescuing all these children and apprehending the suspects.”
The children’s parents were told they would work in factories in New Delhi and other cities and would send money to their families, according to Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), one the child rights groups involved in the operation.
BBA founder Kailash Satyarthi, who alerted police after a tip-off, said it was the biggest single operation to rescue trafficked children in transit.
He added: ” Among those children who have been rescued from the clutches of traffickers, the youngest one is barely seven. He was being trafficked from Bihar to be sold as a tea-boy in Jind (Haryana state).”
Child trafficking, particularly in rural areas, is a serious problem in India according to UNICEF. It ranges from industrial and domestic labour to forced early marriage and sexual exploitation.