An inter-state child trafficking racket, allegedly engaged in supplying children to orphanages in Kerala mostly from eastern states, has been unearthed by Railway police with the arrest of eight persons who had brought over 500 children here by train.
According to police, a total of 580 children from Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal were brought here in two batches on Saturday and Sunday by trains.
The arrested, who are also from Jharkhand, Bihar and West Bengal, told police that the children were meant to be taken to two orphanages in Kozhikode and Malappuram.
They were arrested on Monday and charged with child trafficking under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, railway police said.
The children, many of them girls, are aged between four and 12 years. The had arrived at Palakkad Junction railway station in two batches on May 24 and 25, they said.
Acting on a tip off, railway and local police detained the first batch of children from Bihar and Jharkhand when they arrived here by Patna-Ernakulam Express on Saturday.
The next batch, comprising over 120 boys from West Bengal, reached here on Sunday night.
Those who accompanied the children could not produce any valid documents to prove their identity, a top railway police official said.
The arrested were produced before a local court and remanded to judicial custody.
All the children have been taken to state-run juvenile homes of the Child Welfare Society in Malappuram, Thrissur and Palakkad.
Police said the arrested are being questioned and further investigations would follow. The orphanages mentioned by them are also under the scanner.