Jalpaiguri, Jan. 21: Seven minor boys and nine girls, who are residents of different tea estates in the Dooars, were rescued by Malbazar police from Kalyanpur in Motihari district in Bihar yesterday.
Police said the minors were taken to Bihar to perform as dancers in local bands by two traffickers.
The police have arrested both the alleged traffickers.
“The minor boys and girls, who are residents of different tea estates in the Dooars and children of tea workers, were taken to Motihari by a trafficker. Menaka Singh, the trafficker, is a resident of Hakimpara in Siliguri. She had taken them to Motihari by train on January 14,” said Nima Norbu Bhutia, the subdivisional police officer of Malbazar.
After reaching Motihari, the minors came to know that the boys would have to perform a dance where men impersonate women and perform at marriages.
“The girls, on the other hand, were told to perform in orchestras and all of them were kept confined at a house in Motihari,” said Deep Banerjee, a representative Shakti Vahini, a Delhi-based NGO working against trafficking.
There are reports that during such performances, both boys and girls have to face alleged torture and sexual abuse from people who hire them.
Representatives of the NGO working in Katihar had helped the police in the rescue operation in Motihari, said Banerjee.
Recently, two girls had managed to escape and reached their homes.
“On inquiring from them, the family members got to know about Rambalo Paswan, another trafficker. They immediately made a plan and called Paswan. He was asked to meet at a location in Malbazar and was promised that more such minor boys and girls intended to go to Bihar,” a source said.
“As Paswan reached the spot, they caught him and handed him over to the police,” the source added.
Police officials in Malbazar interrogated Paswan and came to know about the whereabouts of some other minors too.
“Paswan also took the name of Menaka Singh, who had taken the minors to Motihari,” a police source said.
A police team then went to Motihari.
The minors were rescued and brought to Malbazar. Menaka was also arrested from the spot. She was produced in the chief judicial magistrate’s court here in Jalpaiguri today. The court heard the case and has sent her to five days’ police custody.
“We had taken the minors to perform in orchestras but some local people had forced us to stay back. I am not associated with trafficking,” the woman said before she was produced at court.
The subdivisional police officer when asked about the minors, said they would be handed over to their families. “We would also alert the parents to abstain from sending their children in the hope of making quick money with such traffickers”