Agartala, March 10: The 19 tribal children rescued from Guwahati railway station in Assam by security forces and Childline, an NGO, have been handed over to their parents, officials said on Tuesday.
“Fourteen of the 19 tribal children rescued from the railway station by the Assam Police CID, Government Railway Police (GRP) and Childline, an NGO, were handed over to their parents on Monday at Kanchanpur in Tripura,” north Tripura district magistrate Sandeep Rajan Rathod told IANS.
All the children were safe and healthy, he said.
Five children were also sent back to Hailakandi district in Assam and handed over to their families, he said.
Acting on a tip-off, the Assam Police CID, GRP and Childline, an NGO, rescued 19 children from the Guwahati railway station on February 25.
A team of officials from Tripura’s child welfare committee went to Guwahati and brought 14 children back to the state.
Of the 19 children, all below 18 years of age, 11 belong to Reang refugees of Mizoram who are currently living in seven camps in Tripura, five are inhabitants of Hilakhandhi of Assam and remaining three are residents of Tripura.
Childline officials in Guwahati suspect it was a case of child trafficking. Assam Police started the investigation of three adults accompanying the children. An official of Tripura social welfare department said the children were being trafficked to northern India to be forced into child labour.
“The children accompanied by three adults would have boarded a Delhi-bound train, had the Assam CID, GRP personnel and Childline functiories not reached the railway station in time,” the official said.
The three people accompanying the children told Assam Police that the children would be taken care of in a ‘math’ (ashram) in Himachal Pradesh and planned to provide good education.
Around 31,300 Reang tribals have been living in seven camps in Tripura, adjoining Mizoram since October 1997 when they fled western Mizoram after the killing of a Mizo forest officer which triggered ethnic troubles. IANS