Prajaak logo

Diversion from JJB : Mahadeb Mondal (name changed)


Mahadeb Mondal (name changed)
He was referred to Praajak by South 24 Pargana JJB on 01/12/20 along with another boy. They were
apprehended on 30/06/20 for stealing batteries from a lorry. Mahadeb had an addiction to playing
‘Free Fire’, an online game. He used to sell incense sticks during the day in order to arrange for the
money for paying to the café for playing online games. According to him, he had stolen such that he
would be able to get a formidable amount by selling the batteries.
Mahadeb lived with his father and grandmother in a squatter settlement (jhupri) in extremely
unhygienic conditions. Mahadeb’s father is an alcoholic and sells fish at Narendrapur station. His
income is not enough to support the family. Mahadeb is close to his grandmother.
His mother had separated from his father and has since remarried and stays with her new family.
The father had also remarried but his new wife had also left him. From Mahadeb, we came to know
that his father was very violent and would regularly beat up his family members when he was drunk
and Mahadeb was no exception. Thus, he did not like staying at home and got addicted to playing
online games, got involved with a gang of boys. Sometimes he went missing for days and would not
return home.
When Praajak met Mahadeb he seemed malnourished and absent minded. He was unable to answer
questions properly, always lost in his thoughts. It was felt that the boy needed to stay in a safe place
under supervision to slowly gain control over his faculties after which his rehabilitation process could
start. However, in a few days’ time he went missing again for about 2 months. A few days later

Mahadeb was found living at Kamalgaji with a gang of minor boys in Sonarpur. Mahadeb had to pay
the boy who was the leader to prepare food for him. A minor girl was staying with them as well. All
of them smoked bidi and cigarettes together and sometimes even alcohol and marijuana as well.
In conversations with Praajak, Mahadeb mentioned that he wanted to stay with his mother which
was also informed to JJB through our report. Accordingly, on JJB’s order, the boy was placed with the
mother. But the mother was reluctant as she had a family of her own and did not want to take
Mahadeb in. However, she was ordered to be present at the next production. Mahadeb was kept in
Dhrubashram and later handed over to his mother.
Mahadeb started staying in Howrah with the mother’s family, where he was introduced to be the
nephew. His identity of being the son was kept hidden. Praajak continued interactions with
Mahadeb and his mother over telephone as this was the period of Covid after the second wave with
strict restrictions in place.
Staying under strict discipline, proper nourishment and care Mahadeb started improving slowly. His
mother was able to keep a strict vigilance on him so that his smoking was limited. He took his
younger step brother to his tuitions and helped his mother in household chores.

His case was dismissed by the JJB within 7 months of Praajak receiving the case.

Praajak’s continued support to Mahadeb and his family psychologically. He mentioned of getting
tired of the constant confinement and missed his grandmother a lot. During counselling sessions, he
expressed his interest in cooking and he was convinced that he did not want to study in anyways. He
wanted to work and earn. So, it was planned with him and his mother that he would go to Chennai
where his maternal uncle worked in a hotel, stay with him and learn the work. The plan was made
with Mahadeb and he was happy with the decision. In fact, he said he was happy being able to leave
the city and start life afresh elsewhere.
On the midnight of 8th May 2022, Mahadeb was rescued by Tiruchirappalli (Trichy) Railway
Childline. Mahadeb was travelling with another uncle (his maternal aunt’s husband) on way to his
maternal uncle and they were unable to communicate with Childline as they were neither
conversant in English nor in Tamil. Childline team members decided to take him into custody in spite
of repeated requests by Praajak and produced him before Trichy CWC.
Praajak submitted the South 24 Pargana JJB order and wrote a letter to the CWC saying that Praajak
was taking responsibility of the child but to no avail. The chairperson of Trichy Railway Childline
asked for a letter from Howrah CWC so that he could release the child. He mentioned that his
interpretation of the JJ Act a minor could only travel with his parents or grandparents and he would
not consider any maternal uncles.
Mahadeb’s parents were not in a position to reach Chennai immediately and Mahadeb was
transferred to the Sevai open shelter for next one month. Meanwhile Mahadeb’s parents and family
were extremely confused and upset with the situation and said they could not understand why their
son had to land up in a child care institution even when he was travelling with a trusted relative. The
mother specifically blamed herself for the situation.
Over telephone Mahadeb conveyed to his family that he couldn’t eat properly because of the
unfamiliar food and that he fell ill. Meanwhile Praajak got in touch with the Kolkata CWC (who were
at the time handling cases from Howrah) in June 2022.

Mahadeb’s mother submitted a letter with her appeal to the Kolkata CWC. The CWC required
Mahadeb’s school certificate and his mother’s Aadhar Card. Mahadeb did not have a school
certificate. Moreover, his mother’s Aadhar card had name of her husband which was different from
his father. They required that the local panchayat of the mother’s village would have to issue a
certificate stating the Mahadeb was her son. This was extremely distressing for the mother and her
family as no one in the village knew that Mahadeb was her son and she feared extreme
stigmatization if villagers came to know she had a son from an earlier marriage.

A few days later the Kolkata CWC informed us that the Royapuram had requested the DCPU South
24 Parganas to complete the SIR for this child. The SIR went through smoothly and since Mahadeb
was already 17 years old, it was considered that there was no point placing him in a CCI. The
recommendation was that he would now stay in Narendrapur and his mother would be constantly in
touch with him.

Mahadeb returned to Narendrapur. He confided that the days in Chennai was very exhausting. He
was beaten up by older boys at Royapuram home and always confined to his room. He currently
stays in Narendrapur with his father helping him in his fish business now. The father has also started
depending on him. He loves to play cricket, kite running, football etc with his childhood friends.
During the weekends he goes to Howrah and stays with his mother.

He also visits his elder sisters family nearby and has helped his sister run her rakhi stall during
Raksha Bandhan. He plans to join a poultry by the end of 2022 where he expects Rs 8000 rupees per
month as his remuneration.

Meanwhile we were able to link his family to a government housing scheme and hopefully they will
be able to build a pucca house soon.