PUBLISHED IN HINDUSTAN TIMES RANCHI
Jharkhand government is mulling to bring an ordinance to promulgate Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act, which could not be placed in the budget session of the state assembly, as it was curtailed by eight days.
The Act is aimed at effectively countering the menace of human trafficking from Jharkhand, which as per NGOs working in the field see 10,000 girls—mostly minors—trafficked to Delhi and NCR region every year through placement agencies. They eventually end up as domestic servants—tortured and sexually abused in captivity in many cases.
“The draft bill for Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act was ready with all the modifications sought by the governor. But it could not be placed and passed as the assembly session ended before. I will meet chief minister (CM) Raghubar Das in a day or two and request him to bring an ordinance to promulgate the Act to effectively counter the menace of girl and child trafficking and child labour,” Raj Paliwar, state labour minister told the HT over phone.
Governor Droupadi Murmu had returned the draft bill earlier seeking more stringent provisions. “The earlier draft had penal provision of two-year jail and the governor wanted it to be more stringent. Now, penal provisions have been modified making it seven-year jail term on conviction,” a source said.
Paliwar though refused to get into details of the bill, but said all the modifications sought and suggestion given by the governor have now been accommodated in the draft of the said Act.
“The Act is the need of the hour and our government wants it enacted at the earliest. We have made stringent provisions and hope this will give police and antitrafficking agencies an effective tool to rein in traffickers and illegal placement agencies. We will also launch mass awareness drive,” the minister added.
West Singhbhum superintendent of police (SP) Anish Gupta said a strong law was needed to deal with the fake and illegal placement agencies along with awareness drive so that parents don’t get trapped and send their girls on promise of lucrative jobs.
“Parents need to lodge complaint and a strong law will help in speedy prosecution, effective trial and stringent punishment as a deterrent. There’s also sexual exploitation angle involved and we are imposing POCSO in such cases. We have identified certain placement agencies and traffickers and would launch crackdown against them soon,” Gupta said.
Gupta was the Khunti SP when the massive crackdown against child and girl traffickers was launched in Khunti, with antitrafficking unit in-charge Aradhana Singh alone nabbing 85 traffickers and rescuing about 230 trafficked girls between 2015 and 2017.
However, half of those 85 traffickers are already out on bail even though they were booked under non-bailable sections. “In most cases, the parents of the victims turned hostile with the traffickers and their associates threatening them or paying them money to shut up mouth. There’s no effective law to tackle the placement agencies either,” Aradhana Singh said.
Rishi Kant, founder coordinator of NGO Shakti Vahini, said Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act would be a very effective tool to fight the menace run by about 25,000-30,000 placement agencies in Delhi and NCR, as Delhi government has no
placement agencies Act to regulate and monitor them.
“We alone have rescued over 200 trafficked girls from Jharkhand in Delhi and NCR. About 30-40 girls and underage boys are trafficked from Jharkhand every day. And Delhi police are invariably reluctant to act against these
agencies, traffickers or the families hiring the girls. CM Raghubar Das in 2014 had announced to bring back 50,000 trafficked Jharkhand girls back to the state and rehabilitate them. It’s now for bureaucrats and police to take the initiative,” said Rishi Kant.