Fear grips child helpline staff

The 1098 Child Helpline volunteers are scared of the government railway protection force (GRPF) personnel after their June 16th daring rescue act of three children from the illegal custody of GRPF Warangal police, who kept the three victims tied to window grill for four days by inflicting torture and without sufficient food.

According to T. Sudarshan, coordinator of child helpline centre, Warangal, it was a chance discovery by a visiting child helpline team looking for a missing girl at Warangal railway station when they were alerted by the cries of the three victims coming out from a window at GRPF police station in Warangal.

“Unlike other times, we did not receive any rescue call on 1098 for the three children confined at GRPF police station, Warangal,” said Mr Sudarshan to this newspaper.

However, sources said that the volunteers working with the child helpline are now scared to take up rescue missions of missing and abandoned children at railway stations in Warangal despite the fact that all the 23 field staff of four NGOs working with Child Helpline Centre have special identity cards signed by district SP and the district collector.

The child helpline field volunteers’ fear arose after the 1098 call centre reportedly received calls from unidentified persons on why they took on the GRPF personnel.

Incidentally, the child helpline centre, which is a nationwide initiative run by the Union ministry of women and child development and manned by 12 call centre staff round-the- clock in Warangal, gets its majority of rescue calls from railway stations in Warangal district. The volunteers also expressed fears that following the incident, there would be less cooperation from men in uniform after the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Warangal officials directly blamed GRPF DSP K. Dakshinamurthy, the top GRPF official in Warangal, for being behind the illegal confinement of the children.

Meanwhile, in an email to local media, the AP Balala Hakkula Sangham (APBHS) state president Achyuta Rao sought stringent punishment for all those involved in the torture and illegal custody of the children by the GRPF personnel.

“Based on a petition filed by APBHS, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) chairperson Mr Justice Nisar Ahmed Kakru has already ordered for an explanation for the incident from state home secretary, director general of police and DIG Warangal by July 4,” said Mr Achyuta Rao, who demanded arrest of all the involved GRPF personnel

By prabeer sikdar for DC