Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Trafficked children head back home from southern India
Hundreds brought to Kerala so grants and food aid could be claimed
- ucanews.com reporter, Thiruvananthapuram
- June 7, 2014
Authorities in Kerala are taking steps to send hundreds of children back to their home states after a massive trafficking racket was exposed.
Manish Ranjan, Labor Commissioner of Jharkhand, told ucanews.com on Friday that his government has decided to take back 153 children who were trafficked to Kerala on May 24.
"We have requested railway authorities to sanction special coaches for our return travel and issue 191 seats for the journey,” Ranjan said. “We have 153 children, 30 parents and eight officials escorting them back.”
Kerala railway police apprehended 455 children from Jharkhand and Bihar states, all aged under 12, when they arrived at Palakkad railway station on May 24. They were accompanied by a number of adults.
M Binu, inspector of railway police at Palakkad, said the children had no valid documents, so police called in the state’s Child Welfare Committee (CWC), which lodged the children in different orphanages.
The following day, a further 123 children from Jharkhand were detained at the same station, along with four adults.
Talking to ucanews.com on Friday, Deputy Inspector S Sreejith, who has special responsibilities for anti-trafficking, described the incidents as "prima facie cases of trafficking."
According to a police source who asked to remain anonymous, hundreds of children are trafficked to orphanages in Kerala in order to claim monetary aid and subsidized food from the state. As orphans are relatively few in Kerala because of low birth rates, the source alleged that some orphanages pay agents to bring children from other, more impoverished states.
“Children from other states are not eligible for grants. So they fake documents to show these as destitute children from Kerala,” the source said.
Father Jose Paul, chairman of CWC in the Palakkad district, called for a full investigation, capture and punishment of the culprits. Trafficking of children from other states "is a serious offence, which can be punished with a jail term of 10 years to life," he said.
His remarks have sparked something of a political storm in Kerala, with Muslim leaders alleging that CWC has overstepped its domain, and strongly denouncing the implication that Muslim charity organizations may be associated with child traffickers.
But Fr Paul countered that “we are only bothered about the violation of child rights."
He pointed out that 455 children and 33 adults were made to travel for 50 hours in three compartments which were designed to take a combined total of only 219 passengers.
"There were not enough space, food, water or adults to care for them,” he said. “Such travel is a clear violation of children’s rights. We can’t turn a blind eye.”
Mohammed Quddus Ansari, a parent from Jharkhand who came to Palakkad after police detained his son, told ucanews.com that he paid 1500 rupees (US$25) to agent Mohammed Alangir.
“He approached me three months back and promised the best education for my son that could make him a doctor or engineer if he was sent to Kerala,” said Ansari. “I didn’t know he was part of a child trafficking ring.”