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15 trafficked children rescued, brought back to Assam

Guwahati, May 8: Fifteen children, engaged as forced labourers in Bangalore, were brought back today after having been rescued by the Assam CID with the help of a web portal launched by the Union home ministry in February to check human trafficking.

Superintendent of police, CID, Violet Baruah, told The Telegraph here today that the children, between nine and 16 years, were rescued from different factories in Bangalore yesterday, following investigation into complaints about nine missing children registered last month.

The children were taken to Bangalore by “middlemen” with the promise of jobs as their poor parents could not afford food and education for them. All of them hail from Dibrugarh, Sonitpur, Golaghat, Nagaon, Baksa and Dhubri districts. They were found working in garages, plywood factories and as domestic help.

“After our additional director-general of police Mukesh Kumar Sahay received the complaints, we took help of the ministry of home affairs web portal and got in touch with the nodal officers looking after human trafficking cases in Bangalore. Through the portal we got in touch with Bangalore police and an NGO, Talash, who helped us track the children. Our team left for Bangalore on April 29 and rescued them. They were kept in a shelter run by the NGO there. The boys include physically challenged and speech and hearing impaired children,” Baruah said.

The rescued children, 14 boys and a 12-year-old girl, were brought here today by the rescue team, comprising CID sleuths, officials of social welfare department and Unicef, by train. They were produced before a child welfare committee and then put up in shelter homes.

“The children have faced harassment and are in trauma. We will try to speak to them during counselling at the shelter homes. They mostly belong to poor farmers and tea garden labourers who were targeted by a well-knit network of human traffickers. Their parents were promised Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per month and were paid initially. But after some time, the parents could not locate their children and lodged complaints,” Baruah said.

On whether they faced any sexual harassment, Baruah said a medical examination would be conducted to ascertain their physical and mental condition. “Two boys fell ill on the way to Guwahati. They are being treated,” she said.

The CID had opened an anti-human trafficking unit in 2011. At present, there are 14 units across Assam which handle cases of human trafficking, including women and children. Sources said the problem is increasing because of lack of proper awareness in villages about human trafficking rackets.

“There are middlemen who are paid for convincing poor people to send their sons and daughters to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore where there is a tremendous demand for cheap labourers as well as sex trade. Besides, there is a demand for girls in Haryana and Rajasthan because of the poor sex ratio there,” the CID Baruah said.

A recent study of Unicef and the state government on trafficking of women and children in Assam found Sonitpur district as a major source of women trafficking, followed by Kamrup and Kokrajhar.

The Union home ministry had launched the web portal in February this year to build an online platform of police, government agencies and NGOs for better co-ordination and assistance in tackling human trafficking across the country.


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