NORTH LAKHIMPUR, July 30 - As the world observes the World Day against Trafficking in Persons today, a widowed mother of six living in a thatched hut on the outskirts of the Koilamari Tea Estate near Lilabari in Lakhimpur district is waiting for her daughter Carmella who went missing ten years ago.
Jawny, a casual worker in Koilamari Tea Estate last saw Carmella, her eldest daughter in 2008 readying for school as she set out for her work in the tea garden. According to Jawney, one Rafael Kujur of Ujjwalpur, Lilabari took away Carmella, six years old then, from their home during her absence. Kujur allegedly took Carmella to Delhi to be engaged in domestic work. Since then Jawny has received no information and whereabouts of her daughter. Unfortunately, she doesn�t even have a photo of Carmella. This correspondent met Jawney in 2015 when she narrated her tragedy of selling of her daughter by her husband during her absence in day time to Rafael, one of the local agents for the girl child traffickers in the region that borders Arunachal Pradesh. Jawney later met Rafael on several occasions begging him to bring back Carmella from where he had sold her. Each time Rafael refused to oblige denying the act. Jawney was again met by this correspondent in an awareness meet organised against human trafficking in Balijaan where she came to narrate her misery with a hope of getting any information of her daughter. Her husband who sold Carmella to Rafael Kujur ten years ago is also no more now. All these reflect the agony of the next of kin of the trafficking victims and that of the victim who may have lost her roots in the long period of time so far.
This year�s campaign for World Day against Trafficking Persons highlights the fact that almost a third of trafficking victims are children. The theme draws attention to the issues faced by trafficked children and to possible action initiatives linked to safeguarding and ensuring justice for child victims. In this context, woman like Jawney deserve urgent intervention by the state agencies to trace back her lost daughter trafficked ten years ago. Had the law enforcement agencies intervened and investigated the case ten years ago, Carmella might have been at least traced. The incident like many similar ones happened within a radius of just 10 km away from the district headquarters town North Lakhimpur. Lack of awareness among the tea garden workers and the prevailing socioeconomic atmosphere are the main reasons for the rise of this menace affecting young girls in Lakhimpur. Despite earning wages from the tea gardens where they work, the members of the community are affected by alcoholism and debt. To cope up with the problems, mainly financial, affecting their daily lives, most of the parents send their young daughters for work outside. The rackets that operate girl child trafficking take advantage of the situation and their agents who roam in the villages and labour settlements of tea gardens in Lakhimpur district take these girls from their parents promising handsome salaries. In most of the cases, the girls are taken to nearby Arunachal Pradesh for work. Many girls are trafficked to Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and other places also. A proactive and coordinated approach by the police, state social welfare department, tea garden management and public can bring an end to the ordeals faced by these unfortunate girls like Carmella from Lakhimpur.