KAPIL DIXIT , TIMES OF INDIA ALLAHABAD
ALLAHABAD: Twelve-year-old Rajat (name changed) worked round the clock at a dhaba. The child neither got proper sleep nor was given enough food. Rajat, however, was lucky as his plight came in the notice of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU). The unit rescued the minor and took legal action against his captors.
With the setting up of the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU), the police have rescued 37 children in the district. The police are also trying to trace the parents/ guardians of rescued children and contacting NGOs/ Child Line which can better take care of these children. AHTU functions as a full-fledged police station and handles human trafficking, child labour, bonded labour, sex trade cases. AHTU was set up in the district in June 2011. It collects information to lodge FIRs, conducts raids, makes arrests and does investigations.
DSP Colonelganj and AHTU incharge Praveen Singh Chauhan told TOI: “Any complaint or information regarding human trafficking can be given to the unit located at the Reserve Police Line or on the number 9454401277. He added that till now 37 children have been rescued. The other districts where AHTU has been set up are Agra, Allahabad, Meerut, Bareilly, Basti, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Moradabad, Varanasi, Maharajganj and Jhansi. Officers said 12 districts in UP have been selected for Anti-Human Trafficking Unit as a pilot project. If successful, it would be set up in all 73 districts.
As per guidelines of the home ministry, a missing child is defined as a person below 18 years whose whereabouts are not acknowledged to the parents, legal guardians or any other person who may be legally entrusted with the custody of knowing the whereabouts/well being of the child whatever may be the circumstances/causes of disappearance. The child will be considered missing and in need of care and protection, until located and/or his/her safety/well being is established.
The law enforcement agencies may involve representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutions and the community at large as this will enable the community to get fully involved along with the administration/police in identification, tracing & recovery of missing and trafficked children and arrest of accused persons.
There should be community awareness programmes on the issue of missing children and its links with human trafficking may be undertaken by the district administration. All police officers, especially the team of officers handling investigation into similar cases, need to be trained and sensitised on an ongoing basis to the issues concerned. The issues of missing children, human trafficking along with Juvenile Justice Act may be made part of syllabus in the state police training colleges to sensitize the police force.