NEW DELHI: Anti-child labour laws and their strict implementation have not been able to contain the problem of child trafficking in the city. Children are still being trafficked from states like West Bengal, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Assam to work in factories and households in inhuman conditions.
Industrial estates like Okhla, Wazirpur and Jhilmil Colony see a number of such children steadily working when they are guaranteed free education under the Right to Education Act.
While Delhi Police’s anti-human trafficking cell is over a year old now, and has helped rescue child labourers, there are several areas that need to be worked upon.
Ravi Kant, Supreme Court advocate who is conducting a study on several such cells in Delhi and across the country said, “There is no convergence between the ministry of women and child welfare and these cells and both agencies are working in isolation. The ministry needs to support the work of the police.” Kant’s study will form the India Country Assessment Report for the ministry of home affairs.
“While district level sensitization is going on, the justice delivery system needs to be strengthened. The legal aid system does not properly support the victims right now as the victims have to travel between states and testify in a court. While the travel expenditure is taken care of by the court, the state does nothing to ensure their accommodation,” he said. Many times, the victims and their families do not show up in court due to social stigma. “There is need to conduct these cases over video conferencing to encourage victims to testify. Right now, employers are not getting convicted in a lot of cases because of this,” he added.
Activists also say that the creation of these cells have helped the process of rescue of child labourers. Till April-end this year, 34 cases of child labour have been reported and 149 such children rescued. In 2011, 135 cases were reported and 1,144 children rescued.
Activists say that responsive nodal officers have helped them crack down on employers faster. Increase in registration of cases of missing children is a positive step in this regard. “Each of these state cells are given Rs 35 lakhs per year and a jeep to help them in raids. Video cameras have been provided by MHA for detailed recording of these rescue operations,” said Rishi Kant of NGO Shakti Vahini.
Currently, the cell in each district is headed by one inspector with sufficient number of upper subordinates and supporting staff. “In case of any organized trafficking racket that comes to notice, instructions are that the probe of that case shall be transferred to Anti-Kidnapping section of the Crime Branch for further necessary action,” explained a senior police officer.
While 33 persons – including 22 women – have been arrested under the immoral trafficking (prevention) act already this year, 121 such persons were arrested last year