Operation Khoj: A lifesaver for destitute children
New Delhi: Just four years ago, Aslam was found lying in a semi-conscious state on a platform at Delhi’s Hazrat Nizamuddin Railway Station due to a drug overdose. Today, the 15-year-old dreams of becoming a “choreographer” and has already started attending dance classes to achieve this.
The route to this dramatic transformation in his life wasn’t easy as Aslam had fallen into bad company. He initially began stealing food from pantry cars and gradually started taking drugs to forget the “tensions” of his life. These exacerbated over time and made him a drug. That is how Khoj a group of the Delhi Police and NGO CHETNA found him in that state.
“I don’t want to recall those days… I had fallen into bad company. I would say I was lucky that Khoj found me and invested time and efforts in my well-being,” Aslam told IANS.
“They put me into a rehabilitation centre and started teaching me dance to divert my mind from drugs. Initially I resisted, but then I started liking these classes. Now I want to be a famous choreographer and go to Mumbai,” he said, adding that now, the thought of drugs don’t even cross his mind.
It just isn’t dance that Aslam has learnt – he is now studying in class 10 and is eager to complete his studies.
This is not just the story of Aslam; there are around 40 children like him who have been rehabilitated and educated by Khoj, an operation which was launched in June 2012.
According to Delhi Police Inspector Pradeep Kumar, the education facility is available only at Hazrat Nizamuddin.
“Within this police station we organise dance, music and teaching classes, including computer education. We plan to extend this facility to the Old Delhi Railway Station with the help of CHETNA who provide the basic infrastructure, equipment and teachers,” Kumar told IANS.
Khoj also re-unites with their parents lost children on railway platforms.
Operation Khoj has been started at five railway stations of the national capital – New Delhi, Old Delhi, Sarai Rohilla, Hazrat Nizamuddin and Anand Vihar.
As per Delhi Police data, 2,961 children have been rescued and rehabilitated between June 2012 and March 2015.
Till March 31, 2015, the police have rescued 63 children found at these railway stations against 755 in 2014. A total of 1,113 children were rescued in 2013 while the number was 1,030 in 2012.
According to the data, the rescued children were in the one-six age group.
Rehabilitating children from railway stations is what CHETNA has been doing since 2006 under its “Dreams on Wheels” programme. These children are then reunited with their families.
However, under Operation Khoj they also educate these children to help them sustain their livelihood.
“We don’t want these children – some of them are homeless – to pick up any bad habits. This is why we focus on education so that other job options are open for them,” Sanjay Gupta, founder and director of CHETNA, told IANS.
“This is a unique programme in which we not only educate them but provide to them a chance to make their lives and come out of bad habits and the neglected strata of society,” he added.
“We hope to reach out to many such children to make this world a better place for them through education,” he said.