The number of runaway kids seems to have increased drastically this year. As per the railway statistics, in 2021, around 979 kids were re-united to their parents by railway as the daily average of 2.68 children per day, which has now reached up to 4.13 in the current year till 30th June.
"Railway Protection Force (RPF) of Central Railway has rescued 745 children in coordination with Govt. Railway police and other frontline railway staff from railway station platforms over Central Railway in the past 6 months i.e. from January 2022 to June 2022 under Operation Nanhe Farishte. These include 490 boys and 255 girls and reunited with their parents with the help of NGOs like Childline," said an officer of CR, adding that in 2021, from January to December, Central Railway RPF in coordination with GRP and other frontline railway staff has rescued 971 children including 603 boys and 368 girls.
Mumbai Division of Central Railway registered the highest number of runaway cases of 381 children, which include 270 boys and 111 girls.
Apart from that Bhusaval Division registered 138 children including 72 boys and 66 girls. Pune Division registered 136 children including 98 boys and 38 girls. Nagpur Division registered 56 children including 30 boys and 26 girls and Solapur Division registered 34 children including 20 boys and 14 girls.
COVID has demolished hopes and livelihoods and traumatised families across the country, especially the poor. Running away behaviour is synonymous to a depressed mood and a consequence of poverty coloured by COVID trauma," said noted psychiatrist of the city Dr Harish Shetty.
"Children out of anxiety, fear and hopelessness quit in the hope of finding work, livelihood and want to run away from pain. Many run away searching for succour to help their families," he said.
"The children who come to the railway station without informing their families, due to some fight or some family issues or in search of better life or glamour of the city, etc. are found by trained RPF personnel. The trained RPF personnel connect with the children, understand their problems and counsel them to reunite with their parents. Many of the parents express their deep gratitude and thankfulness for this noble service of the Railways," said railway officials.