Tuesday, August 15, 2006 (Ranchi district, Jharkhand):
Nearly every third house in the poorest districts in Jharkhand has a child who has left home in search of food and work. Now they are missing from their families and public consciousness too.
Sunita Oraon has spent over a year looking for her eldest daughter Raodi. Poverty drove 12-year-old Raodi to leave her home in Gurgujari village near Ranchi.
But no one knows where she has gone and her family fears she has become a victim of traffickers who lure poor children from these backward areas and take them to big cities.
A majority of the children were later found in Delhi, working in roadside dhabas, wholesale markets and at homes.
Sunita went thrice to Delhi. She had no address, no information, just a hope that she would trace her daughter somehow. Though she spent most of her earnings, it was all in vain.
“It’s been a year. But there is no trace of her,” said Sunita Oraon, a resident of Gurgujari Village.
Trafficking of children common
In adjoining karak village, Sumari Lohar’s eight-year-old nephew Rajesh has not come home for four years now. Sumari contacted the woman who took Rajesh to the city.
Though the woman broker has agreed to help Sumari trace Rajesh, she wants Rs 3,000 rupees. Sumari does not have the money.
“I dint know where he is. His mother is also no more. Where can we look for her,” asks Sumari Lohar, a resident of Karak Village.
The irony is that though trafficking of children is common in more than 11 districts of Jharkhand, few cases are registered at police stations.
“I am really scared of the police. They ask for money, which I don’t have. I don’t know what to do, I am all alone,” said Ranjana Lohar, a resident of Karak Village
As a result, a large number of the vulnerable groups of working children are missing. A survey carried out by the state labour department has found that as many as 45,000 children in these 11 districts had left their homes in search of work.
Nearly 80 per cent of these children belong to tribal families.