Trailing vanishing children

Trailing vanishing children


The Madhya Pradesh police have set up anti-human trafficking cells in 24 thanas across the State to seriously probe the disappearance of children, especially from tribal districts. Having struggled with high incidences of rapes, molestations, infant mortality, maternal mortality and malnutrition among others, Madhya Pradesh is now battling with the menace of human trafficking.

A new report compiled by Vikas Samvaad, a Bhopal-based human rights advocacy and research organisation, claims that over the last eight years, the State has lost 75, 521 children — boys as well as girls — to trafficking. That’s 24 children a day! Of these, 12,936 children are yet to be traced by the police. Also 8,108 girls are reported missing over the last nine years, the report claims.

To tackle the problem, 24 anti-human trafficking cells have been set up in police stations across Madhya Pradesh, with Rs.7,58,000 earmarked for each cell.   However, according to the report “Madhya Pradesh mein neelam hota bachpan”, the police have often been found acting indifferent to such missing complaints. “Till recently, the police just did not take missing children cases seriously. They just registered a complaint, avoided FIRs and advised the parents to look around in order to find their children,” admits Aruna Mohan Rao, Additional Director General, Crime against Women branch, Madhya Pradesh police.

“However, since I took charge in June this year, we have strictly instructed all thanas to take missing children cases very seriously and register them as separate cases and follow up thoroughly on investigations,” Ms. Rao adds.  The problem is particularly acute in tribal areas of the State, especially in districts like Mandla, Balaghat, Dindori, Khandwa, Seoni and Shivpuri.

“Of all the children gone missing from the State’s tribal areas during the last nine years, 44 per cent are yet to be traced,” says Prashant Dubey, who compiled the report based on painstaking, ground level research conducted over the last one year.

“The better sex ratio in tribal areas is unfortunately proving to be a bane for girls who are sold, purchased and traded across national and even international borders like cattle,” says Mr. Dubey.

Sex ratio in the tribal districts has been much better than most places in the country, with districts like Alirajpur and Balaghat having sex ratios of 1009 and 1021 respectively. Not surprisingly, buyers are mostly from States with skewed sex ratios like neighbouring Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra and not-so-far-away Haryana, Punjab and Delhi. But children are not just being smuggled out of Madhya Pradesh, they are also being brought in from several other States, especially Assam, West Bengal and Odisha and even other countries.

According to the National Crime Record Bureau, Madhya Pradesh led the country in “Importation of girls” (section 366B of the IPC) in the year 2011 when 45 girls were brought into the State from foreign countries. The State, along with Karnataka (12) and Bihar (10), contributed to two-thirds of such cases all over India. Children are traded for several purposes including household work, industrial labour, marriage and even prostitution.

 Last December, the Madhya Pradesh police rescued 57 minor girls from Mandsaur, engaged in prostitution, from the clutches of human traffickers. In another case, 19 child labourers, mostly from West Bengal’s Burdwan district, were rescued from the busy Sarafa market in Indore. Recently, the railway police rescued 20 children, bound for Gonda, Uttar Pradesh, from the Bhopal railway station. Last month, minor girls from Assam were rescued when the police busted a high-profile prostitution racket in the city’s posh Koh-e-fiza locality. Once some girls from a village go out, they are sent back to bring other girls from their village. In return, they are paid a commission of Rs. 500-1,000 per girl. Girls are sold for prices ranging from Rs. 5,000 to 70,000 and more.

Trafficked Assam girl rescued from Haryana


Guwahati, Oct. 20: A 16-year-old girl has been rescued from a Haryana village by an NGO, Shakti Vahini, in a joint operation with the anti human trafficking unit of Haryana police and Bhiwani district police.

The girl, a native of Assam’s Kamrup district, was allegedly sedated and lured out of Assam by one Abdul and was being forced to marry a Haryana villager. The girl told counsellors that Abdul used to follow her whenever she ventured out from home and gradually convinced her to elope with him. On the day she was trafficked, Abdul took her to a restaurant and allegedly gave her some sedatives mixed with the food. He then took her to a Haryana village, saying that they were going to his sister’s house. Instead, he took her to one Ajit and sold her off for Rs 45,000. The girl learned this from the owner of the house where she was kept. Ajit abused her in all ways possible. She was made to do household chores the whole day and at night. He also abused her sexually.

The girl’s family had lodged a missing complaint with Noonmati police on October 5, 2012. Rashi Kant, a member of the NGO, said, “Shakti Vahini received the information by email that a 16-year-old girl from Assam had been trafficked. The girl had reportedly called her family once and said she was being held captive in a Haryana village.”

The NGO then asked Haryana additional director general of police (crime) K. Selvaraj for assistance.The girl was subsequently traced to Pinjkhara village of Bhiwani district and rescued.Shakti Vahini members and police first raided the address corresponding to the mobile number from which the girl had called. But nobody was found there. Later, the rescue team found out that a person in Pinjokhara village was using the said number. The team rushed there and raided a house, successfully rescuing the girl this time.After the rescue yesterday, the police made a daily diary entry and Shakti Vahini counselled the girl and then sent her for medical examination. Following the check-up, she was sent to a shelter home. In the meantime, a Shakti Vahini representative coordinated with the Guwahati senior superintendent of police Anand Prakash Tiwari, who assured the NGO that a police team would be sent to Haryana soon to bring the girl back. An FIR (number 390/12) was also lodged in Noonmati police station yesterday under Sections 366A/372/120B/34 of the IPC, Sections 3 and 4 of the Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act and Sections 23 and 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act.

Shakti Vahini president Ravi Kant said, “The situation is highly alarming. Trafficking for forced marriage is the ramification of the skewed sex ratio in Haryana. Female foeticide in Haryana is causing a serious gender imbalance, which is finally devastating lives of girls. The fall in sex ratio people is creating a shortage of brides and for this, people are resorting to trafficking to get their sons married. Recently, several cases of human trafficking have been reported from Haryana.”