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31 Bodo girls rescued

Kokrajhar, Aug. 27: Bodo student activists arrived in the nick of time to prevent a large number of young girls from leaving the Bodoland area today. These girls are suspected to have fallen prey to human traffickers.

The activists forced 27 girls to disembark from the Dwarka-Okha Express at Kokrajhar railway station this afternoon.

Not too far away at Shantipur in Chirang district, four other girls were rescued by members of the public from a couple suspected to be human traffickers.

Both incidents seem to confirm the worries expressed by several NGOs that a large number of girls from the Bodo belt is being lured by flesh traders and taken away to cities like Delhi and Mumbai.

Police sources said the 27 girls were part of a 50-member group of youths, who were forced out of the train by activists of the All Bodo Students Union (Absu). The train was forced to stop at Kokrajhar station this afternoon.

Earlier in the morning, villagers rescued four girls at Shantipur from the clutches of Kuldip Thapa and his wife, accused to be girl traffickers, who were on their way to New Delhi.

Kuldip, who works in a private security agency in New Delhi, Konark Security Service, claimed he wanted to take them there to employ them in “honourable jobs”. One of the rescued girls said Kuldip had promised them lucrative jobs. The couple have been handed over to police.

A senior police officer told reporters, “We are investigating the allegations and steps will be taken to send all of them back to their respective villages.”

But the girls themselves seem to have been brainwashed. Rinku Roy, one of the teenagers bound for Gujarat, said: “We want jobs and nothing else. Now that we have been stopped here, we will demand that our fares be refunded with a guarantee of employment elsewhere. Or I will file a case against those who stopped us here.”

A Bodo student leader said, “Though different Bodo organisations have been trying to curb the largescale migration of youths from tribal-dominated areas, this exodus is still continuing as the government has remained a silent spectator. No one knows how those who leave the Bodoland area live in the metros: whether they are honourably employed or exploited.”

An Absu leader said, “It is a matter of grave concern for all of us. The increasing activities of dalals — middlemen and brokers — have created problems in the rural areas, with the indigenous people being lured with false promises of good jobs in metros such as Delhi and Mumbai. These young boys and girls mostly work as bonded labourers in factories and sweatshops or are forced into prostitution.”

Similar instances of alleged trafficking of Bodo youths, particularly girls from the Bodoland region, have been recorded in the past three years.

Absu had detained 70 youths, including 66 girls, in July 2006 from different railway stations in Assam.

In August, the Adivasi Students Association of Assam had also detained 16 Adivasi girls at Dingdinga bus stop from an Alipurduar-bound bus.

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