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Chhattisgarh’s efforts sluggish in tracing missing children : SC

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BY RASHMI DROLIA IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

RAIPUR : Supreme Court summons to Chhattisgarh chief secretary Vivek Dhand and director general of Police AN Upadhyaya to appear in person on October 30, has once again brought to focus the alarming problem of human trafficking of women and children particularly from tribal areas of state, and laxity of administration in dealing with the problem.

With nearly 65,000 women and children missing between 2001 and 2013, Chhattisgarh has the dubious distinction of being a hub of human trafficking as tribal women and children are taken to metropolis including Delhi and Mumbai and even far off to foreign countries, presumably to work as domestic helps. Eventually, many of them are pushed into prostitution.

Irony for Chhattisgarh is earning tag of being among country’s fastest developing states amid its laid back law enforcement and bureaucracy. TOI found shocking numbers where Chhattisgarh recorded nearly 65,000 women and children missing between 2001 and 2013 of which more than 40 per cent still remain untraced. Official data received through an RTI shows children and women at Raipur, Durg, Jashpur and Bastar are among the most vulnerable ones with maximum number of children going missing and the figure continue to rise with every year.

On an average, Chhattisgarh witnessed 330 women and 230 children going missing every month. Figures show around 40 per cent of the missing children have not been traced.

Where do these missing women and children go isn’t really unknown to state’s stakeholders which include police, department for women and child, state commission for protection of child rights, child welfare committees, anti-human trafficking units and CID child cell.

Officials have admitted that maximum of those going missing were trafficked who are procured under the guise as labourers and are further pushed into domestic slavery, prostitution, forced marriage, beggary and many more.

Recently chief Lokayukta SN Srivastava has intervened in the issue under his jurisdiction as misconduct of public servant. Srivastava revealed that during his investigation, he found there were organized gangs working on juvenile criminals and jails who connect with them to lure/ convince children join them. “There are international gangs and push the vulnerable ones into slavery, beggary, pickpocketing and even orphanages.”

He is gathering detailed information and has given deadline till December to properly implement several schemes and take steps to curb human trafficking and missing children. Srivastava said that additional chief secretary NK Aswal and DIG (CID, child cell) Rajeev Srivastava have assured of proper implementation of track the child web portal, AHTUs, formation of special juvenile police units etc.

Talking to TOI, Rishi Kant from national NGO Shakti Vahini working women and child rights said, “Supreme court’s intervention and summon on CS and DGP itself shows laxity in Chhattisgarh’s law enforcement. Being a hub of child trafficking, issue of increasing number of children going missing has to be dealt seriously in Chhattisgarh. Tracing a child isn’t a tough job if one really intends to, we have been doing it in accordance with police for past many years.”

Explaining about how state needs to begin from the scratch over the issue, Rishi kant said, “It’s vital for police to understand that as per SC’s order FIR has to be lodged with each child going missing presuming that he/she was trafficked. Only then process of tracing missing children could begin with the help of all stakeholders.”

Meanwhile, reacting over opposition Congress’ spokesperson Shailesh Nitin Trivedi said it was high time state government wake up to the calls of growing missing children and Supreme Court’s order. Accusing Raman Singh government he said, “It’s shameful that thousands of children are still missing and despite that police avoids lodging FIR.”

Supreme Court had earlier directed many states to file a compliance report following a petition filed by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, which led the court to provide many directions regarding complaints of missing children.

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