Page 20 - English Tehelka Issue 1&2
P. 20

CoverStory                                                                                                                                                                                              trafficking








                           n a summer night in 2017, when a fam-  4 am to do the household chores, all by myself. They
                           ily in Chhatarpur, New Delhi went to   had a washing machine, despite that they would
                           sleep after dinner, 14-year-old Mukti   ask me to hand wash piles of clothes. They made me
                           (name changed) discreetly slipped out   sweep and mop the entire big house. From 4 in the
                 O of the house and ran. She was wearing         morning to dusk, I was constantly forced to work.”
                 worn out clothes and slippers, her hair was messy   Mukti also said that her ‘employers’ would give
                 and she didn’t have a single rupee in her pocket.   her just tea and two biscuits in the morning, lunch
                 The dimly-lit street was empty and she fastened her   at 3 pm that included two chapatis and some sabji,
                 pace as mixed feelings of fear of being caught and   and a small meal at night, though often there was
                 anxiety about her future ran down her spine.    no dinner for her.
                    As she reached the main road, drenched in      After finally finding a safe place to live, Mukti
                 sweat and tears, Mukti saw an autorickshaw and   wants to join school and continue playing her
                 requested its driver to drop her to the New Delhi   favourite sport, football, as early as possible. Back in
                 Railway Station from where she planned to catch   her village before the incident happened, she and
                 a train back to her native place in Assam. The rail-  her friends would practice football everyday guid-
                 way station was the only place familiar to her in the   ed by a coach for free. Now, Mukti will be receiving
                 city because that is where she had ended up with   education and rehabilitation at the children’s home
                 her ‘agent’. Upon being dropped at the station, she   run by ACRD till she desires. She hopes for a better
                 caught a policeman’s attention who took her to a   future for her two younger sisters as well.
                 children’s home after she narrated to him her har-
                 rowing story.
                   In March 2017, Mukti was trafficked from Baksa
                 district in Assam by a placement agent, a man from   Due to lack of education
                 her neighbouring village. Early one morning when
                 her mother left for work in a tea garden, the man,   and awareness, parents
                 unknown to her, coaxed her to leave with him
                 immediately saying her mother had given him per-  readily give away
                 mission to take her to Delhi for work as a domestic
                 help. Upon reaching New Delhi Railway Station, she   their children when
                 was handed over to two men named Rajiv and Arun
                 who took her to their ‘office’.                 traffickers pretend to
                   There, she was confined to a small dark hall full
                 of other trafficked girls. There was only one tiny
                 window, too small to allow sufficient light or air   offer free education or
                 inside. She felt helpless and trapped like the other
                 young girls as none of them knew their fate. What   lucrative jobs
                 was most shocking for Mukti was that during the                                                                                                                                          photos: dasarath deka
                 night, the ‘agents’ would come to their room and
                 force themselves on some girls.                                                                                 in this area argue that the drop might not reflect the   minor girls — Bandani Nag and Bilu — went simul-
                   When Mukti narrated her ordeal to  Tehelka,                                                                   ground reality.                                 taneously missing from their village Dekadong in
                 it had been only two days since she had returned   traffickiNg                                                    “The numbers show only cases that have been   the state’s Baksa district in 2017. While it was later
                 to her home state. She was residing at a children’s                                                             reported. But, as seen in many instances, most of   ascertained that an agent name Dasharat, a resi-
                 home run by the Assam Centre for Rural Develop-  sceNario iN assam                                              the cases go unreported either due to ignorance   dent of Dekadong village itself, was responsible for
                 ment (ACRD).                                                                                                    or threats faced by parents and guardians,” said   trafficking both of them to Delhi, no action could be
                   “The agents were bad people. I was so scared   Trafficking is flourishing in the rural and remote             an activist who did not want to be named. Further,    taken against them as the families of the missing
                 to see how the agents would break into our room    heartlands of Assam on an unprecedented scale.               Tehelka’s investigation revealed some shocking   children never filed a case against the accused.
                 during the night and do bad things with some girls   Minor children, especially girls, are targeted by traf-    details about a laissez-faire situation for criminals   When asked by this correspondent why they
                 who were a little older than me. There were three   fickers and taken to metro cities to be engaged as          involved in human trafficking in the state.     did not report the matter to the police, a confused
                 more girls from different villages of Baksa, all   domestic helps or in prostitution.                                                                           and ignorant Birsa, brother-in-law of Bandani Nag,
                 tricked by such agents, just like me.”            As per the National Crime Records Bureau                      No missiNg                                      said, “Didi, police complaint? Nobody told us that
                   She continued, “On the third day, late in the   (NCRB) annual report titled ‘Crime in India, 2015’,                                                           we should complain to the police. We people do
                 night, the agents took me to a Punjabi family in   1,494 cases of trafficking were reported from As-            complaiNts                                      not have a single clue about whom to contact or
                 Chattarpur. Uncle and aunty used to beat me, hit   sam in 2015, the highest in the country. This number                                                         complain when such a situation arises.”
                 me on my head, pull my hair and verbally abuse me.   took a sharp dip in 2016, falling as low as 91 in terms    Perhaps the biggest advantage that traffickers have   It is indeed shocking that in Baksa hundreds of
                 I would weep for hours. They would wake me up at   of cases reported. However, activist groups engaged          is that most cases go unreported. For instance, two   such trafficking cases go unreported and, hence,



                                        tehelka / 31 january 2018  20  www.tehelka.com                                                                 tehelka / 31 january 2018  21  www.tehelka.com



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