The Assam Tribune
NEW DELHI, Sept 19 – Illegal migrants from Bangladesh and Nepal has added to the problem of human trafficking in the North Eastern States. This is the opinion expressed by speakers from the North-east participating in a meeting of the National Media Coalition against Human Trafficking. Experts drew a grim picture of the human trafficking scenario in the Region pointing towards the acute poverty among the people on account of lack of economic development, growing unemployment, militancy, ethnic turmoil, floods and illegal infiltration.The day-long meeting was inaugurated by Union Minister for Women and Child, Renuka Choudhury and Union Minister of State for Overseas Indian Affairs, Vayalar Ravi. Others who attended the meeting included the US Ambassador at large, Mark. P Lagon, India Chief of the United National Office on Drugs and Crime, Gary Lewis, Archana Tamang of UNIFEM.
Participating in a discussion, Dr Arun Kumar Sarma said that most of the women and children were trafficked for employment. In some cases girls were promised marriage in Gulf countries. In the last two-three years, girls from the Region have been taken to various parts of the country and abroad, he added.The crisis has been compounded by the presence of a large population of Bangladeshi migrants in the Region. The cheap labour is a major attraction and there is no record of what has happened to the womenfolk who have been taken as cheap labour force, he added.He further added that flood have affected a large number of population in Assam and some 50,000 people are currently living in relief camps in pitiable conditions. Roads and embankments have been washed away and there is no living space available. These flood victims become easy prey for human traffickers, he said.He further added that the victims of ethnic riots living in refugee camps in Kokrajhar district have also fallen victims to touts.
Joining him, senior journalist and North-east bureau chief of The Indian Express, Samudra Gupta Kashyap said “Some 2000 young girls living in 21 relief camps were missing. He added that around 10,000 young men have been killed in conflicts, while another 6000 are members of different armed groups.”He said there was such acute poverty that people were willing to be trafficked in absence of any viable alternative. He cited the instance of a village in Gossaigaon district, where most of the boys were missing. There is no school and no drinking water. Most of the girls were unmarried. There are reports of girls being trafficked.In this connection, he lauded the initiative of All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) which has been intercepting buses and trains bound for Delhi and Gujarat and rescuing victims of human trafficking. He said illegal migrants from Nepal and Bangladesh have added to the surplus labour force. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs 90 per cent of India’s sex trafficking is internal. Women and girls are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation and forced marriage.
According to US State Department Report, India is also a destination for women and girls from Nepal and Bangladesh. These women are also trafficked through India for involuntary servitude in the Middle-east. India was placed in Tier 2 Watch List by the US State Department for a fourth consecutive year for its failure to show increasing efforts to tackle the large and multi-dimensional problem.