GRPís social work, reuniting lost children with parents
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In July, a month after she was kidnapped from the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus three-year-old Sangita Pawar was reunited with her parents. It was a momentous occasion for her parents but routine job for the Railway Police.
Every year, about 1,500 children, most of whom run away from home, land up in one of the 17 railway stations in the city. In six years between 2006 and 2012 (up to September), 10,657 children were found in 17 railway stations of Mumbai. The Government Railway Police (GRP) plays a critical role in their safe journey back home.
The GRP has been able to reunite most of these children with their parents. Just 266 are still in the remand home in Mumbai. In the calendar year 2012, until September, 1,115 'lost' children were found at stations in Mumbai. Of these, 774 were boys and the remaining 341 girls. Almost 50 per cent of these children were found in just five stations: Vashi (118 children), Thane (112), Kalyan (101), Dadar (96) and CST (90).
According to police Inspector Rajendra Pal, "This year, out of 1,115 children found, 768 (555 boys and 213 girls) were immediately handed over to their parents, 343 children (216 boys, 127 girls) were sent to the remand home, 194 (112 boys and 82 girls) were handed over to parents through court and 133 are still in the remand home. Four children will be released from the remand home and handed over to their parents soon. "Last year, 1,486 children (1,081 boys and 405 girls) were found in Mumbai's stations.
"In such a tender age, these children are unable to understand their welfare. To hold them back from choosing any wrong path is not an easy task," says a policeman.
The GRP's role is no less than a social worker, he said. Although they work in tandem with NGOs given the number of formalities to be met, the GRP is involved from the start to end in all cases.
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