After five years of investigation into how 579 children from underprivileged families in West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar had landed up at the Palakkad Railway Junction, on their way to two major orphanages in Kozhikode and Malappuram, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has now found nothing illegal about it. Children from poorer backgrounds, even if their parents are alive, are free to seek admission to such orphanages expecting a better future and such initiatives did not involve any kind of child trafficking, observed the CBI.
For reasons best known to them, Kerala’s mainstream media paid little attention to the final report filed by the CBI in a judicial magistrate court in Kochi last week absolving Mukkom Muslim Orphanage in Kozhikode and Anwarul Orphanage at Vettathur in Malappuram of any illegality for soliciting children from West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar. The media was not so indifferent in 2014 when these 579 children were detained at the railway station on the suspicion of alleged trafficking.
Eight people from the three states who accompanied the children on the long journey were arrested by the railway police when media dubbed them as operatives of an inter-state child trafficking mafia. Without hearing the side of the arrested people and orphanage heads, the television channels had vied with each other in telecasting breaking stories reinforcing their assumptions of child trafficking involving huge money. The then Kerala BJP President V Muraleedharan had immediately asked for a CBI enquiry.