NEW DELHI, Jan 1 – In what should be a cause of concern, human trafficking from Assam is on the rise, with some NGOs now planning to shift their focus to the North East as traffickers have started making inroads into the neighbouring States of Meghalaya and Manipur.
Briefing newsmen, Rishi Kant of NGO Shakti Vahini said that they have decided to set up an office at Guwahati following reports of increase in trafficking from the North Eastern States including Assam.
According to figures of the Ministry of Home Affairs, 48 cases of trafficking from Assam were detected in 2014, while till September last year, 57 cases were registered.
In Assam, 1,597 girls were reported missing last year out of which 616 were traced, while the remaining were reported as untraced by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Rishi Kant said the girls from tea garden and tribal areas are often lured by agents with attractive job offers. “We have found out that two trains, the Avadh Assam and the North East Express, are frequently used by traffickers to transport the victims,” he said.
Shakti Vahini plans to track these agents who are working secretly but plays a key role in the entire chain.
Underlining the need to probe the placement agencies, the NGO activists also stressed the need to launch a crackdown on the identified human traffickers by the local police. “For instance, Assam Police is yet to take any firm action against notorious trafficker Munna Choudhury despite police forces of other States like Delhi and Jharkhand Police having arrested him on several occasions,” he said.
In a bid to strengthen the NGO-police partnership in the Operation Smile II, an initiative of the Ministry of Home Affairs to search missing children and rehabilitate them in their respective States, Shakti Vahini will assist the State police in searching missing children, he said.
In the Operation Smile I initiative in July last year, Shakti Vahini partnered with the police of Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal in 1,200 missing cases.
Rishi Kant said minor girls from Assam are trafficked into various parts of the country, and Delhi has become a major transit route. The placement agencies have emerged as the main culprits. Though courts have issued strict guidelines that only girls above the age of 18 years can be engaged and the mandatory opening of bank accounts in the name of the girls, these guidelines are openly flouted, he added.
In Delhi alone, there are 1,200 placement agencies and all of them are illegal. While the agencies register themselves with the Ministry of Labour, they do not procure licences from the Department of Women and Child Development. “No agency in Delhi has any licence,” he said.
While children are engaged as domestic servants, girls above the age of 18 years are engaged in massage parlours, sold to brothels or sold as brides in States like Haryana and Rajasthan, he said.
“What has become a cause of concern is that in the recent past new ‘markets’ in Southern States have come to our notice,” Rishi Kant said. He also stressed the need of proper rehabilitation of the rescued children and girls.