Alert public and law enforcers are not enough to stop the trafficking of minors, believed to be for work places in the State, it seems.
In a third instance of a major catch, the Railway Protection Force spotted a Kannada youth along with a group of 12 girls aged around 15 years at South Railway Station on Thursday night. On interrogation, Kalu Thoratt, 22, from Jalahalli in north Bangalore, told the officials that he had brought in a group of 15 girls for a seafood unit at Palluruthy. However, the seafood company accepted only three girls who were above 18 years as their employees and he was taking the rest of the group back when the police stopped him.
In October 2011, the Anti-Human Trafficking Cell intercepted 12 boys and 18 girls on Lokmanya Tilak-Thiruvananthapuram Netravati Express while being taken to a peeling unit at Sakthikulangara, Kollam. In November 2012, a group of 56 persons from Uttar Pradesh, which included 40 young women, were intercepted aboard Hapa-Tirunelveli Super Express. They were being taken to a textile unit at Aluva. Both these interceptions were made after alert fellow passengers raised alarm and informed the police.
“But there have not been many instances of children being trafficked for sex. Almost all the reported cases were about underaged persons being brought in for labour,” said M.R. Ajith Kumar, Inspector General of Police, Crimes, who is the State nodal officer of the Anti-Human Trafficking Cell.
But more than the interception, the repatriation of the children to their home States is what worries the authorities. “The girls who were stopped on Thursday night were not cooperating at all. They were behaving as if they have been tutored not to answer any questions. We have to get in touch with the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) unit in Bangalore and move them back, which is a tedious process,” said Padmaja Nair, chairperson of CWC.
Abject poverty and poor living conditions force many of these young people to join the group coming over in search of job. Recently, three young boys, aged around 15 years, all from Bihar were produced before CWC. They were employed at a laundry near Elamakkara and were made to work from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. for a monthly pay of Rs. 3,000. They left the place in desperation and were picked up from the railway station.
“Moving these kids back to their homes is a risky business as we often do not get the police protection required for it, especially when taking young girls. It is also not practical for CWC members from over there to come and collect these children,” said Ms. Nair.
The girls picked up on Thursday night were first handed over to the Childline after the RPF rescued them from the agent. They were then moved to the Girls’ Home at Kakkanad and after the sitting of CWC held on Friday, moved to another place.
“It will take at least a fortnight to complete the procedures for taking them back. We are planning to send them through Kerala State Legal Services Authority (Kelsa), as we did with girls from Manipur recently,” said Ms. Nair.