July 18, 2008
A realization dawned upon me that I broke my rose tinted glasses today. I just realized that the world is not a bed of roses, not at all, even with all your loved ones around you. There is much more to the world. Being a journalist, I have always been in touch with the ‘elite’ matters. I call them elite because I feel they were never about the grass root realities.
Around 10:00 am in the morning, my colleague called me up and told me that she has stumbles upon two little girls around 10-12 years old who in al likelihood have fled from their house in West Bengal (an eastern state in India). My colleague wanted to find them a refuge and sounded concerned. I was also concerned, but more for my colleague. After all, have heard so many cases where these ‘so-called’ underprivileged put on the innocent act and then dupe you.
We decided that she can get them to office and then we shall find them a ‘home’ after we are done with our day’s work.
Our office wanted to stay away from any legal hassles; hence we had to leave the kids at the gate. Nevertheless, with the newly acquired sense of responsibility, we checked whether they were at the gate or not many times.
Meanwhile, we called all the NGOs we could, some said give us 10 mins, some asked for an hour. Hours passed by and none reverted back. When we called them again, some said that there are legal hassles involved; others said that they shall acquaint us with the procedure.
We got queries ranging from what are the features of the girls to how are you related and why are you concerned. I am surprised that the NGOs (I choose not to name them) that make big claims, the very same organizations that do not leave any opportunity to raise funds and donations, did not even show the basic courtesy to even call us and ask us towards the evening whether we have managed to rehabilitate the girls or not (one did call, that I shall narrate towards the end).
My heart went out to those little girls who refused to eat anything for lunch. We had got along with the girls well by this time. I could make out what they were speaking in Bengali but could not reply back in Bengali.
One Bachpan Bachao Andolan did come to our rescue towards the evening finally, they reached our office along with a person from the child helpline (1098—try calling here anytime—either the phone is on fax machine or the person who does turn up to help you does what this gentleman did to us). He simply vanished after having a ‘look’ at the girl.
We then took these girls to the Commission for Women-Nirmal Chhaya –a rehabilitation house. The lady in charge out there told us that we need to get a letter-head, on which we need to give an undertaking (saying what?—I have not got it even now). We had gone there in an individual capacity and expressed to them that we as individuals do not keep letter-heads. Madame refused to accept the kids…then followed some deliberations, she somehow said would be able to accept the girls even if the undertaking was on a white piece of paper, but duly signed with the phone number that works so we can be summoned early next morning to take the girls to a hospital and get the medical tests done! And if we refuse to give such an undertaking, the girls are out of the centre.
On the other hand, police had to be called to look into the matter. For once I thought we can now ‘escape’. But their tall bald scary looks that did not go down well with me could surely have scared the two little girls, hence decided to stay back till female constables came to take these girls with them.
I realized that the ordeal had just begun when one of the girls started speaking fluent Hindi. And I was dumbstruck! Madame, you learnt it overnight? Not even night here!!
Then came the contradictory statements, which I shall not go into, that calls for a separate ‘CID’ type write up. The girls had apparently misguided us and presented different stories to us. Towards the end, they forgot their own names.
For one, you fight the system to rehabilitate the two girls, who you realize are not all that innocent! On further investigations, we found out that they were two Muslim girls who seemed to be Bangladeshi migrants stuck in some kind of trafficking racket. Anyway, I am not pronouncing any judgment; I am investigating into the case and shall keep you posted about the details.
As of now, the girls have been taken in by Nirmal Chhaya. I could hear the girls crying and wailing from behind the closed doors of the ‘home’ that houses many such girls.
All I can say is, make it a better place, for you and me and the entire human race……………………
(updates to follow)