GUWAHATI, Aug 28 - Illegal migration from Bangladesh to India is now a well established fact, but incidents of human trafficking, particularly trafficking of children from Bangladesh to India and vice versa has become a major cause of concern. The United Nations office of Drugs and Crime has also expressed serious concern over the issue. The UN office , in a report, has also laid down a standard operating procedure for the stakeholders to deal with the menace.
The report revealed several case studies on trafficking through the porous India-Bangladesh border. In one such case, one 18 year old girl from Bangladesh travelled to India with valid documents along with her brother-in-law and a cousin. They had visa for staying in India for one month. But the brother-in-law of the girl sold her to a brothel in Mumbai. After seven months, the girl managed to escape from the brothel and tried to return home. She managed to reach the India-Bangladesh border where she was intercepted by the personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF).
After questioning her, the BSF personnel came to know that she was a victim of human trafficking. The BSF involved one non government organization (NGO) and she was kept in a shelter home till she was repatriated to Bangladesh.
In another case, a nine year old boy from Bihar lost his parents in a bus accident and he had to stay with his uncle and aunt. One day, his aunt told him that he could not be given free food any more and he would have to work to earn a living. His uncle got in touch with Rehman, an agent involved in trafficking of children to Bangladesh. Rehman, along with one Ismail, took the boy along with another child near to the international border. Rehman and Ismail had valid travel documents, while, the boys were asked to hide among a herd of cattle while crossing the border. After crossing the international border, the boys were forced to work in a brick kiln , where they had to work day and night for a meal. There were several other boys in the kiln.
One day, the local people informed the police and a raid was conducted, in which 25 children working in the kiln were rescued. The boy was repatriated to India and later kept in a shelter home.
In yet another case, a 15 year old girl from Bangladesh, whose family was facing severe financial crisis, was told by a friend of her that they would be able to earn money if they manage to cross over to India. They managed to cross over to India illegally by taking advantage of the porous international border and stayed one night in West Bengal. From there, they were taken to Surat in Gujarat by an agent, where they first worked as domestic help. One of the girls later returned home while, the other got a job in a beauty parlour. But the owner of the place forced her to work in a sex racket. After a few months, she managed to escape and she was intercepted by the BSF while trying to cross over to Bangladesh. She was kept in a shelter home with the help of an NGO till her repatriation.
Those were only a few case studies where the authorities came to know about the victims of human trafficking while they were trying to return home.
The report said that the crime of trafficking in persons (TIP) is clandestine, complex and globally very challenging. It is controlled by highly organized transnational and transcontinental criminal networks and is a $150-$200 billion industry. In South Asia alone, it is estimated that the industry profits $52 billion annually and is often referred to as one of the fastest growing transnational organized crimes. This is not surprising as the region comprises vast countries with high levels of socio-economic inequalities, large populations and intense internal migratory flows. Although migration does not necessarily lead to trafficking, it can create conditions which make migrating women and children more vulnerable to being trafficked for labour and/or sexual exploitation. Desperation for survival and the lack of awareness of the possible risks involved have led migrants to increased vulnerability to human trafficking in the entire region. Natural calamities, such as floods or even the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal in 2015, have led to a spurt in human trafficking cases, transcending boundaries. More specifically, the countries of Bangladesh and Nepal serve as prominent origin countries for women, children and men being trafficked into and via India.
The report said that every day, a large number of Indian and Bangladeshi citizens attempt to cross over to either territory in search of better life, employment opportunities and medical treatment. This in turn, makes it extremely difficult for the first responders, that are the border guarding to identify/distinguish between an undocumented migrant and a victim of trafficking. Additionally, trafficking in persons may also take place through the �border haats�.