Taking suo motu cognizance of a media report that Berhampur railway station in Odisha’s Ganjam district has turned into a major transit point for human trafficking from Bihar to Andhra Pradesh, the NHRC has issued notices to three states, Centre and railway board.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took seriously the media report that said that during the year 2022, a total of 343 children were rescued from Berhampur station but neither they nor their families were provided with benefits of various government welfare schemes for rehabilitation.
The Government Railway Police (GRP) and Railway Protection Force (RPF) rescued them but the persons behind their plight evaded arrest, the NHRC report said.
In its observation, the NHRC said, if true, it amount to a violation of the human rights of the victims. Accordingly, it has issued notices calling for reports within six weeks from the Chief Secretaries and Director Generals of Police of Bihar, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, the Secretary, Union Ministry of Women and Child Development and Chairman, Railway Board.
The incidents of trafficking for the purpose of forced labour or other exploitations in the form of begging, sexual exploitation, and criminal activities continue unabated due to lack of monitoring mechanisms and insufficient deterrence against perpetrators of crimes, a statement issued by the commission said.
Therefore, in light of the incidents as carried in the media report on January 2, 2023, the reports of the chief secretaries of the three states are expected to include preventive mechanism as per the National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking for commercial and sexual exploitation of children and rehabilitation of the rescued children by uniting them with their families by making them available the benefits of various welfare schemes initiated by Centre and state government, the commission said.
The reports of the Director Generals of Police of the three states are also expected to include the status of the implementation of SOP issued by the NHRC, how many cases have been registered for child trafficking during the last 3 years, the outcome of the investigation, and the conviction, if any.
"The DGP, Odisha must also specify in the report whether any arrest has been made in the incidents mentioned in the media report, and if not what steps have been taken to this effect," the statement said.
The Secretary, Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, has to submit a report about the mechanism that has already been adopted or is likely to be adopted to eradicate completely child trafficking in view of the constitutional provision, and the law in force.
The report from the Centre should also mention the steps being taken or likely to be taken with regard to the implementation of the Central Advisory Committee recommendations for the prevention of the trafficking of a child, starting from the pre-rescue stage to the post-rescue operations, and the rehabilitation as well as the other measures, it said.
The Chairman of the Railway Board was asked to submit an action-taken report specifying how railway personnel should be more proactive and vigilant like the incident referred in Berhampur railway station across the country to rescue more such trafficked children and to act in coordination with the respective state governments for the purpose of not only reuniting the children with the family but also insisting the state governments for rehabilitation of those rescued children.