What looks like a contrast of good and evil; the eastern Indian state of West Bengal that contributes to almost 45 pc of the country’s child trafficking cases has also managed to rescue the most number of missing children between 2012 and 2017.
The number of missing girls in Bengal is on the rise although government figures would try and say things are improving. In a recent report submitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the Parliament, the rise in trafficking cases in the state is highlighted as a major concern. In 2014, 1,768 child trafficking cases were registered in the state where as the actual figure was 1,881. In 2015, the number of registered trafficking cases rose to 2,099 while the actual figure was again found to be 2,460. In 2016, the number has gone up to 3,579.
The rescue operations over the last few years have strengthened for sure. With state and central agencies keeping a close eye on this social menace, the recovery of trafficked children is expected to reach to 75 pc in 2017. According to the report, between 2012 and 2017, West Bengal rescued 46,152 children from this vicious circle.
Earlier this month, the National Anti-Trafficking Committee (NATC) Chairman, Sk Jinnar Ali revealed a report that says that there were as many as 35,000 cases of child trafficking in India in 2016-17. West Bengal was highest among all the states and the union territories with 13,000 (37 pc) cases.
Uncooperative officials: NCPCR
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has directly accused the West Bengal government officials of creating unnecessary difficulties in their investigations. While the NCPCR officials have engaged themselves in a thorough research and investigation into the recent Jalpaiguri child trafficking case, the national body has alleged that they did not receive any cooperation from the government officials there.
Ananya Chatterjee Chakraborti, the Chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Protection Child Rights said, “Although there is a difference between the child trafficking racket and the adoption racket that was busted in Jalpaiguri, our investigation found that the local authority was quite instrumental in finding the culprits and removing the ones found guilty.”
Adding her thoughts on the ways to tackle such menaces, she said,”We are focussing more on monitoring the hospitals from where children are mostly smuggled.”
After the March 2017 crackdown of an inter-state baby trafficking racket by CID West Bengal, in which several people were arrested, NCPCR took up the investigation.
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Measures fail intention
The government demonstrated mixed efforts to protect victims; while it made positive steps to find and rescue potential child trafficking victims and improve assistance to Bangladeshi victims, the government’s overall provision of services was generally inadequate and inconsistent, and the penalisation of victims remained a concern. The government did not provide comprehensive information on the number of trafficking victims it identified. However, the NCRB reported the government’s identification of at least 6,216 victims in 2014: 3,332 sex trafficking, 279 bonded labour, and 2,605 uncategorised victims.
While the soft targets of these trafficking gangs have always been the families from the underdeveloped areas in the country – the efforts to prevent human trafficking have failed miserably until 2015. In August 2015, in response to public interest litigation filed in 2004, the National Legal Services Authority submitted a report to the Supreme Court with recommendations for the prevention of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation and the rescue and rehabilitation of victims. Based on the recommendations, the Supreme Court directed the government to establish a central organised crime agency by December 1, 2016, to investigate human trafficking cases and rescue and rehabilitate the victims.