Child safety at stake in Tirumala

Child safety at stake in Tirumala
Highlights

The case of nine-month old Chennakesava who was reportedly kidnapped by a gang on June 14 brings to the fore the safety of children at the shrine of Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple at Tirumala who is regarded as a saviour of people in distress. 

Tirupati: The case of nine-month old Chennakesava who was reportedly kidnapped by a gang on June 14 brings to the fore the safety of children at the shrine of Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple at Tirumala who is regarded as a saviour of people in distress.

His parents—B Venkateswarlu and Nagaratnam—who stayed put at the temple town for two weeks, dejectedly headed back to their native Vajrakaroor in Anantapur district on Sunday after having lost hope over the boy.

Similar cases of child abductions began surfacing in Tirumala and Tirupati in the backdrop of Chennakesava’s incident, most of them tend to go unreported in police records for a variety of reasons. A three-year old girl child identified as Navyasree reportedly went missing at TTD complex in March, 2017.

To every one’s shocking, the little girl was found begging at Renigunta near Tirupati a few days later. Fortunately, the case was registered by the Tirumala police following a complaint by her parents.

Inquiries by the police revealed that the kidnapper from Telangana region with a notorious track record in child abductions was found be thriving on children for begging. The police lay their hands on the accused and saved the victim from his clutches following a tip from co-passengers at the local RTC bus station.

In a related incident a woman sneaked into the maternity hospital at Tirupati and took away a two-day old infant from its mother while sleeping on her bed. However, her images were caught in the CC TV cameras and the video footages helped the police track the accused and hand over the infant to its parents.

According to the police, the accused hailed from Yadamarri village in Chittoor district and she indulged in the case to sell the infant to an issueless couple in her village for an `attractive’ price.

The TTD’s reported failure to provide accommodation to the pilgrims with poor economic conditions is allegedly raising safety concerns for children. Chennakesava’s parents were sleeping in an open place at East Mada street on the fateful night when he was kidnapped.

It is alleged that the pilgrims, armed with recommendation letters given by VIPs and having access to the internet facility, can get accommodation at Tirumala. Hordes of poor pilgrims are seen sleeping on pavements, road side areas, and four Mada streets at Tirumala in vulnerable conditions.

The women and child welfare department with an agency named District Child Protection Unit (DCPU) exclusively for child welfare is conspicuously failing to establish a child help line at Tirumala. It is a mandatory to have a helpline at busy pilgrim centres like Tirumala to trace the missing children.

District women and child welfare Department Project director S Lakshmi admitted that the instances of child missing and abduction on the the rise at Tirumala hills in the last few years. Major religious congregations like Bramhotsvamas come handy for the gangs to steal children and get away with much impunity.

II-Town CI Venkata Ravi told The Hans India that Tirumala registers 7-10 missing cases every month on an average and the children under 1-5 age group is prone to abductions.

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