Nearly 200 boys aged from 8 to 13 years accompanied by 17 instructors were held up at the Bengaluru's Cantonment Railway Station on Tuesday after they got off the Guwahati-Bengaluru Cantonment Express.
The students and the instructors were asked to produce their ID cards for verification, after which they were sent back to madrasas.
It all started with a WhatsApp audio message that reportedly claimed that the boys were being trafficked for religious conversion. The message was in Kannada that said, "100 boys from Bangladesh were being taken to Kerala for religious conversion."
After getting the alert, the railway police and Child Welfare Committee (CWC) officials waited for them at the station and stopped for enquiry. The instructors informed the police that the boys hailed from poor families in Assam, Bihar and West Bengal.
The police did not believe them and asked the boys to produce IDs.
Why were they detained?
By noon, the boys who were taken to the waiting room produced their identity details. During this process, a few boys even told that they boarded the train from Bihar.
The police had ruled out the possibility of trafficking until one of the students who got down at KR Puram said that he had been hit. Further, the railway police were suspicious of the 23 children who did not produce the IDs.
Post the incident, the CWC officials asked the police to send the children to state-run homes, said a report from Deccan Herald. Initially, police agreed to the same but they later sent the boys to madrasas.
In a similar case of miscommunication and lack of proper ID cards, 71 children aged between 8 and 12 years were halted at the Vishakhapatnam railway station in July 2016, as reported by The Hindu.
The instructors did not have relevant documents or ID cards. This had created suspicion that the children were being trafficked, an RPF officer said. Later, when child line and the District Child Protection Unit coordinated, they got a confirmation regarding these children belonging to Madani Mia Arabic College.