Twelve-year-old Atul is always full of energy and enthusiasm and this time he has a special reason to be excited. He has got an opportunity to sing in Canada’s Waterloo city this October. But there is a hitch – he is struggling to get a passport. Being the child of a sex worker makes his case weaker as far as verification of documents is concerned.
A 14-year-old girl, whose mother was forced into prostitution, is an avid singer. She takes singing classes and is equally excited to perform in Canada. But her passport, too, has been stuck as the chawl floor number mentioned in her documents was different from the one mentioned in the application.
A boy of the same age, who was born in Kamathipura, wants to be a businessman, create wealth and donate for the education of other children like him. He also wants to travel the world. His first chance to go abroad came when he was selected to sing at the Waterloo event. However, he is not able to get a passport as his chawl has fewer floors than mentioned in the documents he submitted while applying for it.
An 11-year-old girl finds comfort and a sense of belonging in music, and dance is a mode of expression for her. Her application for passport is pending, and the authorities have not given any reason for it. But she has not lost hope yet. She regularly attends practice sessions for the event and encourages her peers to practise hard.
Besides these children, four others from Kamathipura have been selected for a cultural event in Canada, according to Prerana, an NGO that has been active in the city’s red light area for the past 30 years.
The NGO had applied for passports for six of these children in March, but they are struggling to get the documents for one reason or the other. All of them have valid Aadhaar cards, but police verification, which is essential for the files to move, is stuck in VP Road police station for more than 20 days now.
“We had applied for the passports in March. Since the mothers of these children are victims of human trafficking, they don’t have all the required documents. These kids have Aadhaar cards, but the passport office is asking for more documents, which is delaying the process. We have approached the Mumbai Police, and they have promised to help. We are hoping that the problem will soon be resolved,” said Rashmi Chouhan, communications manager with Prerana.
Narrating the painstaking work to make fresh documents, Vaishali Karande, an outreach member with Prerana, said that it was the biggest challenge. The passports are now stuck for police verification in VP Road police station, she added.
“Because of the social status of these children, some of them do not have birth certificates, while father’s name is missing in some cases. We opened bank accounts in their names to make their case for passport stronger. In some cases, the problem cropped up because the children are staying away from their mothers. Then there are problems related to proper rental agreements. We are still trying our best to arrange the maximum possible documents so that they can get their passports,’’ said Karande.
When contacted, Deputy Commissioner of Police Zone 2 Dyaneshwar Chavan said that he would look into the matter. “We will take up the issue positively and do our best. There are certain procedures that we have to follow,’’ he said.
“The event in Canada will have music, dance and art performances. It offers several other opportunities to these children which can bring a positive change in their lives and help them integrate with their communities,’’ said a press statement issued by Prerana.