Among a growing number of instances, a child trafficking racket was busted by local authorities in the state of West Bengal in India.
Suspicions of an organised international child trafficking ring have emerged in West Bengal, an eastern Indian state which has seen several arrests related to child trafficking in the past few weeks. In the most recent event, ten babies were rescued lying on a sheet in the ground in a charitable home for the mentally disabled and the elderly. This home is located in Behala, in the district of South 24 Parganas. Skeletons of two children were also found at the premises of the office of the same charitable trust that runs the home. This is the second such raid after the one last week at a nursing home close to Kolkata, where three new-born babies were discovered. Foreign currency was also recovered from this operation. Local authorities have shared that the people who have been arrested so far include the owners of clinics, midwives, doctors, charitable organisations, as well as court officials who have been accused of forging documentation for the babies to be put up for adoption or ‘sale’.
Local reports have also suggested that the market value for girl children is three times less than the amount of a boy child. In the raid that took place last week, the police shared that the children were found hidden in cardboard boxes for biscuits. Staff of the clinic has been held as they were accused of picking up new-born babies by misleading the delivering woman into believing that their child was stillborn, said the police. As the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in India has been leading the bust and further investigations, much remains to be revealed with many speculations regarding the scale of the child trafficking ring in the region.
Indian children at risk
The Indian subcontinent, with its location at the centre of South Asia, is a part of the region of the world that is seeing a spurt of human trafficking. As both a source and transit point for trafficked children, India’s children are increasingly growing vulnerable. A report by the NGO Plan India, titled ‘Children in Difficult Circumstances’ reveals the extent to which the trafficking of babies and children is getting worse. Among the eastern states, which include Bihar, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Sikkim, Jharkhand, West Bengal along with Andaman and Nicobar Islands, account for about 61 pc of the total human trafficking cases in India. Among the children from this region who have been reported as missing, as the report has highlighted, an average 48 pc are yet to be traced.
“Around 2.8 million people are trafficked for commercial sexual exploitation annually, of which 40 pc are children. It has become a more organised criminal activity carried out for flesh trade, child marriage, beggary, organ trade and adoption. It is also observed that the ratio of trafficking increases in disaster-hit areas,” said the report. The report has cited National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2014, and unofficial reports show higher figures. With a lack of dedicated effort to counter the growing problem, children in India have much to fear.