Unhappy with the State government’s dealing with the issue, High Court demands a thorough probe

Thiruvananathapuram : The Kerala high court on Thursday came down heavily on the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) government for taking lightly the alleged trafficking of children from other states.

A division bench headed by Chief Justice Manjula Chellur expressed strong displeasure over the manner in which the government dealt with the issue, which brought shame to the state. The court has directed the government to conduct a thorough probe into the incident.

The incident came to light last week when over 580 children from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, meant to be brought to two orphanages in the state, were detained by police at the Palakkad railway station after finding that many of them did not have any proper documents and tickets.

The issue had snowballed into a major row in the state with Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), the second largest constituent of the ruling United Democratic Front, objecting to treating the incident as a case of child trafficking.

Hearing a petition filed by a social activist, the division bench termed the steps taken by the government in the matter inadequate. The court pointed out that the governments of Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal had also expressed their displeasure over the manner in which the Kerala government handled the issue. The bench has made the three states and the Railways parties to the case.

The court was provoked when the counsel for the state government said that the children were brought to the state for better education and it did not involve any trafficking. The judges expressed suspicion whether the government was trying to shield the big shots involved in the case. The court warned that it will not spare anyone who treated the children badly.

Two teams from Jharkhand confirmed it as a serious case of trafficking and are taking steps to take the children back. Jharkhand Labour Commissioner Manish Ranjan, who headed one team, said the Child Rights Commission in his state was probing the incident and would take stern action against all those involved in the trafficking.

The Kerala State Child Rights Protection Commission has directed the state government to take necessary steps to send all children back to their respective states. The children are now kept at state-run juvenile homes of the Child Welfare Society in Palakkad, Thrissur and Malappuram.

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