Chandra Monhan Patowary in Guwahati on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, Sept. 5: The Assam government is planning to open anti-trafficking units in all 33 districts of the state.
Replying to Bodoland People's Front (BPF) MLA Kamali Basumatary during zero hour today on the steps being taken to check the menace, parliamentary affairs minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said efforts were on to open anti-trafficking units and more women's cells in police stations to address the issue.
The BPF is an ally of the BJP-led government in the state.
"According to the instructions of the Supreme Court, cases of missing children are being registered for necessary action. The number of cases has come down this year compared to last year. Under Operation Muskan, 593 missing children from the state have been rescued this year, of whom 33 are from Udalguri district in lower Assam. Steps have been taken for the rehabilitation of the rescued children," Patowary said.
"The missing children are being rescued and brought back from other states with the help of the police. In order to check the menace, work is on to open anti-trafficking units in all the districts," he said.
The minister, however, did not specify any deadline.
There are 14 anti-trafficking units at the district level at present. Headed by an inspector, these units register and investigate cases related to missing children and women as well as help rescue victims.
Police personnel manning such units are trained by different agencies on how to carry out rescue operations with the help of other government departments and NGOs and how to carry forward the investigation based on the provisions in laws meant to tackle cases of trafficking.
At least 10 districts affected by floods, conflict or with a lower level of literacy face the threat of trafficking. Many women and children are targeted by traffickers and taken out of the state with the promise of jobs. The majority land up in brothels in Delhi, Mumbai and Goa or are trafficked to states like Haryana where the sex ratio is low. Children are engaged as domestic help or in factories where the conditions are hazardous, which is prohibited under laws to ensure child rights.
Some of the highly vulnerable districts are Sonitpur, Kamrup, Udalguri, Lakhimpur, Dibrugarh and Kokrajhar.
Shortage of shelter homes for the rescued persons is a serious problem in rehabilitation as many victims find it tough to go back to their homes fearing social stigma.
Activists working for the victims of trafficking stressed that apart from anti-human trafficking units, the state government should open shelter homes in each district, arrange skill development programmes and provide education for proper rehabilitation.
Data provided by the Union ministry of women and child development in the Lok Sabha recently, however, revealed the dismal performance of Assam in tracking trafficked children and women. It said 130 children were trafficked from Assam in 2016, of whom only 37 were rescued, compared to 101 in 2015 against 129 trafficked kids.