NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Sept 21 - The rescue of Sabekun Nissa, a five-year-old girl child from her captors inside Arunachal Pradesh on September 10 by police has once again brought Lakhimpur district to the map of child trafficking. Sabekun Nissa was sold by her father at Laluk to a person from Arunachal Pradesh to be used as a domestic help. But unlike Sabekun�s there are many untold stories of young girls taken out by placement agents for work outside Assam who has never returned home since then.
Jawny, a mother of six from Balijaan of Koilamari tea estate in Lakhimpur district, has been waiting for the last seven years for her eldest daughter Carmella. She alleges that one Rafael Kujur of Ujjwalpur, Leelabari took away Carmella, a six-year-old then, from their home during her absence. Kujur 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.
Raju Bawri of No. 15 Line of Zoihing tea estate in Lakhimpur has not seen his daughter Sokila for the last eight years. Sokila was taken away as a ten-year-old girl from Raju by one Krishan Tanti of Amguri Line of the same tea estate to be engaged as a domestic help in the residence of a prominent businessman of North Lakhimpur town. Unable to see his daughter over the years, Raju Bawri filed a case at North Lakhimpur police station on January 24 this year. But no action has been taken by the police so far.
Similarly Ranee (12) was picked up by one Deepak Chetry of Banderdewa from her mother Holy Malpahari from No. 15 Line of Zoihing tea estate seven years ago. Since then there has been no news of Ranee for her parents. There is also no news of Nikita (12), daughter of Samra Malpahari of the same labour line of the tea estate. Nikita, too, was taken away by an agent to be engaged in domestic work in Arunachal Pradesh seven years ago.
Alberta Kulu, a single woman in her mid-thirties from Junu Basti was taken up by Samuel, an agent of a New Delhi-based placement agency and was brought to Gurgaon in 2006. She was promised a monthly salary of Rs 7,900 by the agency for work as a domestic help in a household. But even after labouring hard for her job in a household for a year, where she also allegedly faced physical abuse, Alberta was not paid a penny by Samuel.
Alberta could return home only after convincing Samuel that she had contacts with Adivasi student leaders of Assam. She was then paid only Rs 1,500 by Samuel and sent by a train to Assam in 2007. Closer to Alberta�s home there is another sad tale of girl child trafficking of Matilda. She, too, was taken by Samuel to New Delhi where she was forced to take part in pornography. After her return home, Matilda got married and left her village for good. A placement agency named Sri Sai Enterprise of JJ Colony, New Delhi was the office of Samuel, who also hails from Junu Basti, Lakhimpur.
All these cases of girl child trafficking in Lakhimpur have been happening 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 parents are told that their girls would be taken to nearby Arunachal Pradesh for work. But in reality, most of these girls are trafficked to Delhi, Haryana and other places. 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 from Lakhimpur.