GUWAHATI, July 28 - The Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (ASCPCR) organised a webinar on Tuesday with focus on prevention of child trafficking amid the crisis prevailing in the State due to COVID-19 and flood.
The Commission, right at the start of the pandemic-induced lockdown, had written to the police along with other line departments that post lockdown, there might be a rise in the cases of child trafficking in the State, and therefore made a request to take necessary precautionary measures for the same through its various advisories and letter of recommendation.
Two such alarming cases, both from Kokrajhar district, were reported last week, where the families that were working in different states had returned to their native places post lockdown and due to their poor economic condition, sold off their children. In the first case, a four-month-old baby was sold for Rs 45,000 and in the instance a one-month-old baby was sold for Rs 50,000. Fortunately, in both the cases, the infants were rescued by the police in close coordination with NGOs, local leaders and child welfare committees.
The webinar was attended by the Assistant Labour Commissioners, Labour Welfare Officers, CEO of Zila Parishad, in-charge of the Anti Human Trafficking Unit, District Child Protection Officer and representatives of NGOs. The key speakers at the webinar were Prof Dr PM Nair, IPS (Retd), chairperson, Centre for Police Studies and Public Security, TISS, Mumbai; Priyank Kanoongo, chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and Dr LR Bishnoi, IPS, AGDP-CID.
The key discussion of the webinar centred around adopting a family-centric approach for prevention of child trafficking. It was collectively agreed upon that in the present situation, the role of the village and community-level institutions and committees is extremely crucial in creating a safety net for children. The Panchayati Raj Institutions, too, must undertake mapping in the villages to identify the vulnerable families and link them to the existing social security schemes of the government, like MGNREGA, PMAY, Ayushman Bharat, etc.
ASCPCR chairperson Dr Sunita Changkakaty said the Commission would come up with recommendations for strategic convergence among various departments, NGOs and civil society organisations to prevent children of Assam from falling prey to trafficking.