Showing posts with label Stop Human trafficking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stop Human trafficking. Show all posts

Darjeeling tea gardens have become a hotbed for trafficking

Tea gardens that once brewed the world-famous Darjeeling tea have now become a hotbed for trafficking, owing to the undermining of labour rights and rising deprivation.

The Dooars region of West Bengal is known for its alluvial soil and cool climatic conditions, making it a fertile ground for tea gardens. But as tea gardens shut owing to financial and operational constraints, they have in turn become a fertile ground for human trafficking. As production declines, exploitation and deprivation rise.

Pooja was trafficked from Chuapara Tea Estate, Alipurduar, in 2013, when she was 13 years old. She was taken to Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, and sold to a ‘placement agency’ called City Service. Two more girls and two boys were also sold to the agency at the same time. Muskan Khatun, the main accused, insisted that she was actually 16 when she was trafficked and that she went with the agents despite Khatun’s warning her against it. Community Correspondent Harihar Nagbansi, reporting on the case, accessed her birth certificate which proved that she was 13 at the time she was trafficked.  Regardless of whether she was 13 or 16, she was still a minor who was illegally taken away and sold for domestic labour, quite possibly in highly exploitative conditions. For four years, the family could do nothing but wait.

Pooja was brought back home in April 2018, thanks to the local police that tagged team with the Jammu and Kashmir police. It was Harihar’s video, along with the efforts of NGOs like Kripa and Bachpan Bachao Andolan, that got the police to act with urgency. Harihar also credits Chandmuni, Pooja’s mother, for her determination. But the story does not end here, because what happened with Pooja was not an isolated case and not a problem unique to Chuapara alone.

Trafficking is an organised crime, across domestic and international borders. The numbers from the latest National Crime Records Bureau data, speak for themselves. 8,057 persons were reported to be trafficked in 2016. 44% of the cases were reported from West Bengal, of these, the largest proportion was of minor girls. And these are only the on-record figures. Police apathy, lack of awareness and stigma are known to be some of the reasons human trafficking is underreported.

While Pooja was fortunate to be brought back, the other children who were taken with her are still in Srinagar. On an average, 174 children go missing in India every day. Unlike Chandmuni, many parents do not even have a lead. Moreover, trafficked persons are often sold many times over, making it all the more difficult to trace them. In the worst cases, they are killed by those who keep them as bonded slaves.

Underlying causes
Poor economic conditions, lack of educational opportunities, social exclusion and isolation, make people vulnerable to trafficking. At the other end of this deal are rapid urbanisation and the consequent want for cheap labour in other parts of the country. Placement agencies that supply cheap labour to middle and upper-class households in metropolitan cities, to development projects, to brothels, and to villages in Punjab and Haryana as brides.
Minors are particularly vulnerable to trafficking. Presented with the prospects of a glamorous city life, many children might choose to escape from their present living conditions. Khatun also said the same thing about Pooja, that she consented to go despite warnings. But the crucial difference here is that children, and even adults, might give consent but not informed consent. To a 13-year-old living in harsh poverty, the prospect of living in a city and having access to facilities, even at the cost of some labour, might sound appealing. In fact, sometimes, children who are brought back often get tricked into being trafficked once again.

Why tea gardens?
The tea industry is touted as the country’s second largest employer, but also an industry that undermines labour rights and deprives workers and their families deprived of the most basic needs. There’s widespread poverty and malnutrition, obvious factors underscoring the desire for a better life. The availability of basic facilities like healthcare and education is also poor. Wages are as low as ₹132 a day, says Harihar, especially in Dooars. And sometimes, even this wage is not paid on time, never mind the bonus.

As the tea shrubs age, production declines and many tea gardens and tea factories shut down temporarily or permanently without rehabilitating their workers. Political instability in the Darjeeling hills, which has spread to the foothills, has also taken a toll, especially on already-sick tea gardens. Of the 60 tea gardens in Alipurduar, 28 are sick or stressed and six entirely shut. To make ends meet, some take up stone-crushing, and others continue to work in the tea gardens but for independent contractors; both jobs pay even lower.

In the Dooars region, the majority of the workers are Adivasis whose families migrated to the foothills generations ago, mostly from what is present-day Jharkhand. In a state and an industry dominated by upper-caste and upper-class Bengalis and business communities, Adivasi lives are already valued less, isolating them socially and culturally. In such a situation, both migration and trafficking abound.
Dooars is also contiguous with the ‘chicken-neck’ area on the map of India, a narrow region neighbouring Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan, all porous borders. Women and children are often trafficked from both sides of these borders, for manual and sexual labour.

What is being done to combat it?
When Harihar asks Chandmuni what she will do to ensure that her daughter is not taken away again, she says that she will engage her in some work and even educate her if she wants to study. The lack of rehabilitation facilities for those rescued coupled with stigma, especially for girls who are trafficked, make it difficult for children to adjust to life in their homes once again.
However, education, like Chandmuni points out, is an important step. Binay Narjenary, a representative of Kripa, says that awareness is crucial. “People must be made aware of the problems girls and women face, and then take steps to ensure their safety”, he says.

NGOs seem to be at the forefront of tackling the problem, as of now. But local NGOs have limitations in curbing a country-wide crime with networks and nodes that cannot be traced. They can provide support in individual cases, but putting an end to trafficking requires the active participation of the state.

To this end, the government introduced the Anti-Trafficking Bill which has recently been passed by the Lok Sabha. But the Bill, unfortunately, does more injustice than justice. To begin with, it continues to criminalise victims of trafficking by trying them for working without authorisation in case of domestic labour or soliciting in case of sexual labour. Moreover, it runs into the danger of conflating migration and trafficking; both phenomena might have similar underlying causes, but the former is voluntary and cannot be penalised. The Bill also recommends rehabilitation measures like state-run shelter homes, which have been rejected by bodies like the UN.

If passed, the Bill will be an insensitive piece of legislation, even on paper. While on the ground, no legislation is enough to change attitudes towards trafficking or to break the silence around it. Combined efforts by local communities, NGOs, individuals and state officials, like in Pooja’s case, are a beginning, but long-term solutions will come from regular awareness, sensitive laws, efficient implementation and socio-economic development and sustainable livelihoods.

Article by Alankrita Anand


Two Minor girls from Tea Garden rescued from traffickers by KUK NGO

10:03 AM

Siliguri2 Feb 2016 Two minor girls from closed Panighatta Tea Garden were rescued from allegedly being trafficked to Dubai with the efforts of   NGO KanchanjungaUddhar Kendra (KUK), Siliguri and Railway Protection Force (RPF) Patna.

According to the information one local agent Guria Darjee from Jabra More, Naxalbari has been arrested who had contacted the victims first for providing jobs.
The victims are now in Patna and kept in a government shelter home. Patna police is trying to trace the other agents involved in the case.

Two minor girls were lured with providing lucrative jobs were travelling with an agent from Nepal in a train from NJP on 31st January. Family members informed KUK when their children didn't return home till evening.
Two Minor girls from Tea Garden rescued from traffickers by KUK NGO
Human trafficking, - Representational image
RanguSouriya, general secretary of KUK told that the victim's family contacted her for help. After filing the missing dairy at Panighatta she tried to contact the victim's number. After repeated call she convinces them to inform about their whereabouts. The girls informed that they were travelling in a train with a lady from Nepal and also informed the name of a local agent.

Later police traced the number and then with the help of RPF Patna they were rescued the minor girls but unfortunately the agent somehow manage to flee from the train.
According to the information there were other three girls missing from eastern Nepal and these agents had taken them in another train. Plans were to make all five girls fly on the same date to Dubai from New Delhi.

Souriya who recently received award from President of India among 100 powerful women of India is doing tremendous work to save the lives of hundreds of girls trafficked from various parts of India including Nepal.

Till now more than 700 girls has been rescued from brothels and from the hands of pimps since 2004.

Souriya informed that till date 14 traffickers has been arrested and four were convicted. Vicky Biswa from Kalchini has been convicted life time similarly BinayTamang of Darjeeling with 14 years, SangitaDarjee of Naxalbari with 10 years and JamunaThapa a brothel manager from Pune and resident of Nepal with 7 years imprisonment.


Three Minor Girls From ‪‎Kurseong‬, Rescued in Kolkata

Three minor girls were rescued from the port area of the city today after they went missing from their Kurseong home in Darjeeling district, police said today.

The three were rescued after a tip off from an NGO and were spotted Mallikghat Flower Market area.

The girls have been handed over to representatives of the NGO till the arrival of Kurseong Police, police said adding that a case under IPC section 363 (Punishment for kidnapping) against unknown people have been registered.

"We are looking into the incident to check into whether the girls were kidnapped or not. We are talking to the trio and trying to track into how they reached the city," the investigating officer of Kolkata Police said.

Three Minor Girls From ‪‎Kurseong‬, Rescued in Kolkata


Child’s rescue blows lid off trafficking racket in Darjeeling Hills

10:43 AM
Writes Amitava Banerjee

The rescue of a 15-year-old boy from the Darjeeling Hills, who had escaped from a monastery in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, has brought to light a threat that has been plaguing the Hills.
Child’s rescue blows lid off trafficking racket in Darjeeling Hills
Pic for illustration purpose
Many children, especially from the economically backward strata of society, are forcefully sent to religious institutions to train to become men of religion and get free food and shelter while at it.

In most cases, the children are forced against their will and the majority of these institutions where they are herded off don’t adhere to norms laid down under different Acts pertaining to child welfare.

The Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Darjeeling, in a meeting with different NGOs and religious institutions on Thursday, categorically said that the children would have to be produced before the CWC and the District Child Protection Unit before such religious institutions could take them into their fold.

“We have to examine whether the child is interested in pursuing religious studies or is being forced into it. We have to also see whether such institutions taking in Juveniles are registered under the Juvenile Justice Act,” Subeshna Thapa, chairperson of CWC, Darjeeling, said.

On July 23, Bal Suraksha Abhiyan Trust (BSAT), an NGO in Darjeeling Hills, received an email from CWC, Shimla, saying that a 15-year-old from Darjeeling has been rescued. The boy communicated in Nepali and the authorities had trouble conversing with him.

Acting on the lead, the BSAT managed to trace the family of the rescued boy. It was learnt that one-and-a-half-years ago, the boy from the remote Darjeeling village was sent to a monastery in the vicinity to undergo religious training.

His family comprises an elder brother, younger brother, a homemaker mother and an alcoholic father, who tends to the fields. It was common for most of the households in that economically backward locality to send their children to monasteries for training.

“We got in touch with the monastery in Darjeeling Hills as well. However, they were not willing to cooperate. They told us that the boy had been sent to a monastery in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, for higher studies,” Tej Kumar Thapa, child protection officer, BSAT, said.

The parents of this boy were not aware that he was sent to a different monastery in Himachal Pradesh. Thapa, with the consent of the parents and permission from CWC, Shimla, left to bring the child back home.

“The child claimed that he was beaten up regularly in the monastery. Even his named was changed. He was not interested in pursuing religious studies and was keen on attending a regular school. He escaped for the monastery and wanted to return to Darjeeling. He was spotted standing near a bus stand, with no money on him and crying. A person took pity on him and handed him over to the police,” Thapa said.

The police then handed him over to CWC, Kangra. Later, he was sent to a child protection home under CWC, Shimla.


Darjeeling police suspect human trafficking racket working in Jalandhar

The Darjeeling police are suspecting a high-level human trafficking racket working in Jalandhar, where the girls, especially from Darjeeling, a hilly town of West Bengal, are being trafficked.
Darjeeling police suspect human trafficking racket working in Jalandhar
A team of the Darjeeling police had allegedly recovered the three girls,  all around 17, missing from Kalimpong village in the Darjeeling hills since October 8, on October 21 from the Model House locality of the city.

Giving this information on phone, Sourav Ghosh, sub-inspector and office in-charge of Gorubathan police station, which falls in the Kalimpong sub-division of Darjeeling district, said that the girls were rescued from the house of a Nepali woman in the Model House locality. Later, they were handed over to their families in Darjeeling.

Ghosh said that they have traced three agents working in Darjeeling, who have links with the Jalandhar-based agents. After collecting more facts, they would share details with the Jalandhar police, Ghosh added.

Ghosh said they have called the girls for questioning on Monday along with their families as they are still in a state of shock and unable to tell anything. After interrogating the girls, they would lodge a first information report (FIR) in the case as, so far, they have registered a ‘missing’ complaint.

Ghosh said that hundreds of girls, especially from the Gorkha community, are allegedly made to join dance groups and engaged for showering flowers in marriage functions, etc.

Ghosh revealed that when his team had recovered the three girls from the house, two girls from another state were also residing there. Ghosh added that the family of one of the girls has also filed a complaint against the woman from whose house the girls were recovered by the joint teams of Jalandhar and Darjeeling police along with representatives of a local NGO.

"We are planning to conduct raids in Jalandhar very soon after verifying the facts but the Jalandhar police are not co-operating with us," alleged Ghosh.

NGO speak

Raju Nepali, a representative of Darjeeling-based non-government organisation (NGO) Dooars Express, alleged that the girls from Darjeeling were being smuggled into Punjab, Delhi and Haryana.

SK Kapoor from local NGO Chitra, who was also involved in the rescue operation here, said that we are waiting for a report of the Darjeeling police and will provide help to them in recovering other girls as well.

The chase

As per information, a gang had smuggled the girls to Jalandhar to serve in the houses of non-resident Indians (NRIs). The five Darjeeling cops, including two woman constables, and representatives of non-government organisation (NGO) Dooars Express, had reportedly camped in the city for two days, after tracing a phone call from one of the girls.

The Darjeeling police had, on October 20, scanned the industrial area, Sodal, Lamba Pind and other locations before meeting officers at police station-8. The next day, NGO representative Raju Nepali contacted the girls and called them to the Model House locality near a migrant-dominated part of the city. The Darjeeling policemen laid a trap and recovered two girls who had managed to come there.

The third was recovered from the house of the Nepali woman in the same locality.


Kalimpong - two minor girls rescued from Dharampur Himachal Pradesh - accused arrested

11:26 AM
Kalimpong police and the child rights activists of Bal Suraksha Abhiyan and Chidline rescued two minor girls form Dharampur village in Solon district of Himachal Pradesh. Rubina Darjee (13) and Nagma Bano (13) (names changed), both the residents of a village in the vicinity of the town. The two had accompanied with one Maheshwar Singh alias Masum Thakur (23) who hails from Kullu district of HP. Both the girls had been missing since October 21 and were brought to Kalimpong today along with Masum Thakur, who is under arrest for luring the minors.

Stop Human Trafficking
Stop Human Trafficking
Suspecting that the accused to have lured and abducted the minors the families of both the girls had had lodged a missing complaint at the Kalimpong police station, but the victims remained untraced for over two months. Notably, on December 19 an undentified person from Dharampur called up the victim’s family and informed about the girls beging present in the village. Following this phone call the police and child rights activists swung into action as informed BSA activist Tejkumar Thapa. Thapa informed the unidentified person who called the victim’s family had reported the girls were in trouble while stating accused Masum Thakur of being suspicious in character. The family also reported the police about the phone call.

Police, Childline and Bal Suraksha Abhiyan worked in coordiantion and traced the girls at Dharampur village in Himachal Pradesh on December 20. Utilizing its broad network Kalimpong branch of Childline contacted their counterparts in Himachal Pradesh following wihich the police apprehended the accused and rescued the minors.

BSA activist Thapa said the accused had forced the girls to work as domestic maids and had been preventing them from returning back under variuos threats. The locals here said accused Masum Thakur is a married person and had earlier come to victims’ village with one local youth who had been to Himachal Pradesh to work. On his second visit to this place Thakur had managed to lure the girls. The victims’ relatives alleged the accused developed close relations with Nagma Bano and on the morning of October 21 he abducted the girls in the pretext going on a tour to Himachal Pradesh.

The police have booked Masum Thakur under the cases of abduction ans abduction with false promises of marriage under IPC sections 363 and 366. The operation to trace and rescue the minors was actively participated by Kalimpong police station official CN Sherpa, BSA activist Tejkumar Thapa and activists of World Vision Child Protection unit. In the meantime, the families of the minor girls have breathed a sigh of relief as the girls have come back home safely after over two months.


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