Saira Khatun (name changed) was rescued by the Delhi Police from a red light area. The 12-year-old girl from Assam had been taken by her grandmother to the national capital and got her involved in sex trade.
In 2005, another minor girl from Assam’s Kokrajhar district was trafficked to Nepal and sent to Saudi Arabia with forged documents. After eight harrowing years, she was rescued in 2013 and sent back home.
Despite the ordeals, both girls were lucky to get reunited with their families. But thousands of other minors and adults from Assam, who are trafficked to all over India and even abroad, are not that lucky.
According to data for 2015, released by recently by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), Assam has emerged as the trafficking hub of the country.
With 1494 cases, the state accounts for 22% of the total reported cases of trafficking across India. Assam also has the highest number of child trafficking---1317 cases, which account for 38% of the national figure.
The figures present a disturbing picture. But the situation on the ground could be far worse as many cases of trafficking go unreported.
“The NCRB figures are only of those which have been reported to the police and FIRs registered. The actual number of trafficking cases in Assam would be much higher,” said Digambar Narzary, chairperson of Nedan Foundation.
A helpline operated by the NGO, which is working in 8 districts of Lower Assam, records 4-5 cases of missing children and adults every day. “Most of the victims belong to poor tribal families who are lured away by traffickers with promise of good education, better job prospects or with promise of marriage,” said Narzary.
Recurring floods, militancy, poverty, lack of employment avenues lead many victims and their families to succumb to the lure of traffickers who promise a better future away from the state.