A 14-year old adivasi girl from Jharkhand was rescued from Kashmere Gate here on May 5 after she left her employer’s house in Chandigarh. This is one of the many cases of minors getting trafficked from rural areas to work as domestic workers in the city. Despite a Supreme Court order last January followed by a Home Ministry directive in July 2013 that complaints of all missing children have to be immediately registered as FIRs, the Jharkhand Police or the Delhi Police are yet to do this.
The girl Ritika Mundu (name changed) told the Child Welfare Committee that she was brought to Delhi by a woman named Phaguni Mundu from her village in Jharkhand last month. She was taken to Chandigarh to work as a domestic worker where she was beaten regularly and not allowed to contact her family. She narrated that her employers threw her out of their house on May 4 after which she caught a bus to Delhi. She was spotted crying and in distress by vendors near ISBT. They alerted the Kashmere Gate police station. The police then informed NGO Shakti Vahini.
Ritika Mundu, who has been sent to a children’s shelter home, was carrying an Aadhaar card, which revealed her father’s name and her address at Hetgaon village in Khunti’s Murhu block. Her father works as a farm labourer.
“Usually, the CWC orders registration of an FIR, but they did not specify this time. The child’s father has not yet made a formal complaint,” said a senior police official in Delhi.
“An FIR should have been registered automatically to begin an investigation into who brought her here and if any placement agency was involved. Since the family is very poor, we have offered to assist them to meet their child here,” said Rishikant of NGO Shakti Vahini. He added the NGO had rescued over 70 children from Jharkhand this year working as domestic workers. At Murhu block in Jharkhand, the girl’s family member Kunwar Mundu told Jharkhand-based NGO Diya Sewa Sansathan that Ritika and two other boys, including Ritika’s 10-year old cousin Uday Mundu, boarded a bus from the village with Phaguni Mundu on April 5 without informing the families.
“She was in my class, but stopped coming to school two years back to help her father. She is a simple child, but very articulate. If she had continued she would have been in Class VIII now,” said Devi Kumari, who teaches at the government middle school in Hetgaon. The village mukhiya, Devnath Mundu, said the village had witnessed similar cases last year too. “Two girls who are 12 and 13 years old are missing, their families cannot trace them. We reported this to the thana, too, but there has been no information so far. Then, last month these three children boarded a bus to Ranchi and maybe a train from there. At least Ritika was found, there is no word on the other two boys who are 10 and 12 years old,” the mukhiya told The Hindu on the phone from Jharkhand.
“Studies estimate that the number of children trafficked from Jharkhand is between 30,000 and 40,000. But the number of FIRs of missing children is less than 500 – a huge gap,” said Baidnath Kumar, who works with Diya Sewa Sansathan in Jharkhand.