[ Tongam Rina ]
ITANAGAR, Dec 1: Twenty Chakma children including three girls are currently under the protection of Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Bangalore-1 (urban) after they were rescued from Bangalore Railway station on Nov 25.
The Childline team, Bangalore Railway Station rescued the children who were travelling with an adult identified as Pema Tsering, a Tibetan from Mysore.
Nine children were travelling without tickets.
All the 20 children, with the youngest aged four are from Diyun and Miao circles of Changlang district.
The CWC, Bangalore got in touch with officials in Arunachal after the children were rescued following which an investigation was initiated.
According to depositions of the parents given to the Changlang District Child protection Officer and EAC, Diyun, children were being taken to Gyudmed Monastic School for free education and that children had the parental consent.
Some of the children have authorization letters signed by the Gaon Burahs.
However, many of the parents that this reporter spoke to were not able to give the name of the school where they had sent their children for free education.
Almost all of them know Pema Tsering and his wife Donita Chakma of Bijoypur-III.
Many said that Pema Tsering had taken children to Tibetan Monastic schools in Mysore area for free education for many years now.
He is an agent who takes children to Monastic schools for free education so I sent mine, said one of the parents.
The parents denied paying money to Pema Tsering.
“We are poor people and we don’t have money for education of our children”, said one of the parents.
This daily could not contact Tsering or Donita for their statement.
According to papers submitted to the EAC, Diyun, some of the parents handed over the children to Hudukya Chakma of Mudoidweep village. He reportedly sent the children to Pema Tsering. Chakma is currently in Rajasthan.
Meanwhile, officials of CWC, Bangalore said that principal of the Gyudmed Monastic School had met them and sought the release of the students from the shelter homes. This daily could not reach the Principal of the school.
The Principal sought one month’s time before any action is initiated, said a member of the CWC.
An official of the CWC who did not wished to be named said that the committee will meet on Monday to take a final call even as it is preparing papers for transfer of children back to Arunachal.
Jongtu Tangha, CWC Chairperson Changlang said that he met the parents of children from Miao circle and all relevant papers will be sent to the CWC Bangalore for further steps.
Seema Diwan of Talaash Association, Bangalore said that there have been numerous instances of children being taken from Arunachal in the name of free education to monastic schools in Kushalnagar, Karnataka under questionable circumstances.
Diwan says that there have been five or more such cases where children were brought to Karnataka from Arunachal, without any relevant papers or proper escorts.
A CWC, Bangalore official while corroborating Diwan’s statement said that there has been one instance where two Chakma children ran away from a monastic school. The official did not give the name of the school.
CWC officials said that if the parents are seeking free education for the children, they have no objection, however papers have to be in place.
“Our concern is the safety of the children. A four year old should be with the parents, not in a shelter home or a monastic school”, said an official.
“I don’t have money to bring back my child”
A parent of one of the three girls said that the children were taken to Mysore on a holiday and that he wants her to stay in Mysore with Donita Chakma.
When this reporter informed the parent that the child is in a shelter home and not with Donita, he said that he want his daughter back home.
“I don’t have money to bring back the child”, he said.
The three girls are less than 13 years old.
Meanwhile, one of the parents is on his way to Bangalore. Speaking to this daily, the parent said that he sent his third son as two of his children are already studying to be monks and that they have access to good education.
I have never traveled outside Arunachal, the father said. He had no idea where his two older children are studying in Mysore.