Chennai: 12-year-old Pravin (name changed), son of an Air Force officer who lived in Anna Nagar, was spotted by Railway Police standing alone in a phone booth at Central Railway Station, late one evening. The boy was dressed in school uniform and was informing his parents over phone that two persons had kidnapped him from his school. The police picked up the boy and handed him over to his parents. However, he told the police that he found it difficult to face parental pressure to perform well in academics. Both parents and the child were given counselling thereafter.
According to Government Railway Police (GRP), 77 runway children have been rescued at Central Railway Station since January this year. Most of them had run away from home as they were unable to bear pressure from parents to excel in studies. “Most children escape in June after school reopens. We rescued 32 children in June. Some children escape because they could not bear scolding from their teacher,” said S Sekar, Inspector of Police, GRP, Central Railway Station.
Seven-year-old Rahul (name changed) ran away from Bengaluru to Chennai Central for the same reason after staging a kidnap drama. His parents, who run a canteen in the military area there, were later given counselling by the police and the boy was handed over to them.
According to GRP, 77 runway children have been rescued at Central Railway Station since January this year.
Apart from academic pressure, children also run away from home because of poverty, railway police said. Of the total number of children saved, close to 30 children were from Bihar, brought here by agents to work as unskilled labourers. “Most of these children have their parents working here as labourers. So agents bring the little ones to sell snacks. If we find these children without their parents in the station, they are rescued,” the police inspector said.
With enhanced police security at the station, GRP keep an extra vigil during the arrival of trains from Coimbatore, Trivandram and Howrah as most runaways come from places where these trains travel through.
The process of registering a case after a child is rescued was implemented only in the middle of last year, police said. Earlier, the children were handed over to the government home and were produced before the juvenile justice board and a memo was written.
Student counsellor Anjana Raju said the issue of parental pressure on children has been going on for some time and only a discussion between both the parents and the child can solve the issue.