Rajgarh-Bangali (Lilabari, North Lakhimpur), Feb 14 - Just on the side of the railway track near the border village of Rajgarh-Bangali lies an unknown and unmarked grave. Covered by wild vegetation, the grave has no visitor for a tribute since the burial early last year. The grave belongs to one Mangal Sai Kherwar whose body, wrapped in a plastic bag, was left on the Assam side of the border from Arunachal Pradesh where he had gone for work as a labourer in a timber depot.
Mangal (28) went from Rajgarh-Bangali village under Ujjalpur Gaon Panchayat in Lakhimpur district, to Arunachal Pradesh along with some of his friends to work in a deep forest to carry logs to the depots. He fell ill during his stay in the jungle and died untreated. After his death, the owner of the timber depot sent and left Mangal�s body at the inter-state boundary in Kakoi, Lakhimpur. His fellow villagers informed police at Lilabari Outpost but no action was taken. The police just reportedly asked the villagers to bury the dead and did not take any follow-up action. As a result, the villagers had no choice but to bury Mangal near the railway tracks. Mangal has no kin left in this world. His father Sukh Ram Kherwar died a few months after his death last year and his only sister has been untraceable for a long time. This is not the only story of young boys going for work to the neighbouring State and returning in plastic bags � after dying under mysterious circumstances, unreported and uncompensated.
Recently, the body of Gabriel Turi (19) from nearby Balijan village also returned in a plastic bag on February 3, four days after his death in Arunachal Pradesh. Gabriel was taken to Arunachal Pradesh along with 21 other men from the village by a contractor named Bolin Biswas from Behera Basti under Lilabari Police Outpost of Lakhimpur district. The 21-member group of men from Balijan village were told by the contractor that they will be engaged in road construction work at Naharlagun, near Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh. Instead, they were transported to Seppa in East Kameng district and forced to work in a very remote place. As Gabriel and nine other men wanted to return home from the place of their work, the contractor allegedly forced them to stay there. Taking a chance on the night of January 30, Gabriel and nine other labourers escaped from their workplace. But they were chased by the contractor upon which all of them jumped from a hill. Gabriel lost his life in that jump while the others sustained injuries. Following his death, the contractor sent the body accompanied by a fellow labourer to his native village in Balijan. Again, the police did not take any action although they were informed. Gabriel�s family has neither received any compensation from his employer nor any justice from the authority.
These are the just two stories of unreported tragedies affecting the rural poor who have been exploited by traffickers for forced labour. The entire border area of Lakhimpur with Arunachal Pradesh is the hub of human trafficking in which unemployed youth are taken to be engaged in various works with a promise of better life. In most of the cases, the reality is seemingly bleak. They are forced to work in hazardous conditions and confined with no hope of return to their native villages. Rampant trafficking of young girl children is also taking place from this area to Arunachal Pradesh.