IMPHAL, May 6: Many children are begging in and around Khwairamband Keithel which is not a good sign for Manipuri society. The helpline for children of the state needs to look on the matter. This was stated by Secretary of the Khwairamband Keithel Lambi Matai Potpham Phambi Lup, Bina Ningthoujam.
In a press meet at the Manipur Press Club, she said the helpline 1098 needs to be on alert 24×7 adding that “Now, many children local and non-local are moving around the Khwairamband Keithel begging for money. This occurs only at night time and most of these children are parentless: their mothers having eloped to someone else or their fathers’ death, some had run away from the torture of step-mothers etc.”
As street vendors in the Khwairamband market, we have often seen such children seeking shelter in the corner of the market. The street vendors are mostly illiterate so we get confused while calling child care helpline number 1098 even if we are desperate to help, she added.
Lamenting that the child helpline number can only be connected through BSNL and Aircel phone numbers, she appealed to the concerned authorities to make all cell phone networks accessible to the helpline.
We have directly contacted those operating the child helpline. They informed us that they are upgrading the help line for making it accessible from any networks. However, the child helpline posters displayed in the street don’t mention the other valid networks to contact the number, she said.
In the press meet, Numitlei Begum, 30, wife of Ahamad from Kwakta, a street vendor, presently staying at Hatta, said: “On April 25, I found three children aged 9 to 11 years from Kwakta village at Oriental Hotel, Hatta around 10 pm. The three children told me that they have run away from home as they can’t bear their step mother’s inhumane treatment. Two are brothers and one is a local friend.”
She said she tried to contact the helpline for children ‘1098’ from a Reliance number but couldn’t get connected, adding that she brought the trio to her house to hand it over to those managing the helpline but the next morning they went missing from her house.
Later, she went to those managing the helpline with Bina to discuss the matter and started searching the trio’s whereabouts.
In the meantime, Lambi Begam, 50, another street vendor of the same locality reportedly met a non-local boy aged around 12 while returning from the market. She immediately called the child helpline and handed over the boy.
Some newspapers have published a story that the boy found was among the trio who went missing from Numitlei Begum’s residence. The story is baseless because the boy handed over to the helpline officials was a non-local whereas the three boys were all locals, Lambi Begum asserted.
On May 3, I got information that the trio has reached their aunt’s residence at Kwakta Terakhongsangbi under Moirang Police station. After I witnessed the trio in their aunt’s house, I got some relief from the tension, Numitlei added.