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About 40 Assam Kids Rescued from Sikkim as CM Himanta Vows to Hunt Down Traffickers

Chief minister of Assam and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma. File pic

Chief minister of Assam and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma. File pic

In the past two months, 107 people including children and women have been rescued, the Assam chief minister said.

Biplab (name changed) from Chirang district of Assam is one among about 40 children rescued from neighbouring Sikkim this week by a police team. His parents work in Punjab and the boy was taken to the hill state by traffickers with promises of education and a better life. Once in Sikkim, he says he was engaged as a domestic help in a home. According to Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the rescue effort is a major achievement of the state police and also underscores his government’s resolute stance against trafficking in all forms.

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Hundreds of children and women in India are pushed by traffickers into forced labour, domestic slavery and sex work every year, in what’s become a lucrative industry, several reports say.

“It’s an important day for Assam police. We are working against the trafficking of women and children," said the CM on Friday. “In the past two months, 107 people including children and women have been rescued. Day before yesterday, we could recover 42, all aged from 9-18 years from Sikkim. The children were lured with hopes of education and engaged as domestic help. Today, I met the children. In a week, I shall personally visit the homes of these children and speak to their parents and understand the compulsions. I shall also speak to the Bodoland Territorial Council chief Promod Boro about the rehabilitation of the children, whether to put them in residential schools or send them back to their homes.”

The Assam chief minister said the kingpin of the trafficking racket and his driver have been arrested. The accused allegedly trafficked more than 80 children from Chirang and adjoining areas of the Indo-Bhutan border. Some have even been sent to far-off places like Dubai and many to Kerala and Maharashtra. While 42 of them have been rescued from Sikkim, the rest are yet to be found. In most of the cases, the bait was the promise of a better life and good education, say officials.

The Railway Protection Force this month rescued six children from among 15 people who were trafficked in Kamrup district of Assam. A female trafficker was also arrested. The accused is said to have admitted to plans of taking the victims to Mumbai by train by luring them with the promise of jobs in a fish packing company.

In June, police busted a human trafficking racket and rescued 31 people, including seven minor girls and 22 women, from a Gujarat-bound bus in Assam’s Baksa district, near the Indo-Bhutan border.

A major child trafficking module came to light two months ago when two girls, aged 12 and 13, were rescued in Arunachal Pradesh. They were trafficked from Moran in Assam’s Dibrugarh district. The father of the two girls allegedly sold them off for Rs 40,000 each. They were then engaged as domestic help at homes in Arunachal Pradesh.

In September 2020, 12 children, aged between 13 and 17 years, and 15 adults, were trafficked to Arunachal Pradesh from Barpeta district in western Assam. They were taken to the East Kameng district in Arunachal Pradesh where they were engaged as bonded labourers for nearly a month until a district child welfare committee rescued them.

As per data released by the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, there was a 55 per cent increase in child trafficking in 2019 here. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows 201 human trafficking cases were registered in Assam in 2019. The state ranked third in the country after Maharashtra (282 cases) and Andhra Pradesh (245 cases).

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first published:July 23, 2021, 21:15 IST