A 16-year-old tribal boy from Jharkhand, who was sold for Rs 50,000 to a Haryana businessman, beaten, held captive, and forced to sleep at a cattle shed for over three months, returned home on Monday.
The minor, police said, was rescued by a team of Jharkhand police from his employer’s house at Khanpur Kalan in Sonepat district after his parents lodged a first information report (FIR) with the Burmu police station in the Jharkhand capital on December 6.
“We reached Ranchi today. The boy is safe…he took care of the cattle at his employer’s house and was forced to spend all his time with the animals,” said officer in-charge of Burmu police station, Sarju Anand.
The news comes a day after a 30-year-old farmer from Rohtak district was arrested, along with a woman, on rape charges after he ‘married’ a 15-year-old girl trafficked from Jharkhand. The farmer, Ramlal, reportedly paid Rs 60,000 to accused woman Sushila in lieu of providing him the minor bride.
The rescued boy was trafficked to Haryana on September 16 by one Deepak Lohra, a resident of Ramgarh, who lured him with a promise of a handsome salary and three-time meals, said Baijnath Kumar, member of Diya Seva Sansthan, a civil society organisation that convinced the rescued child’s father to approach the police.
“His employers were not ready to let the minor go since they had paid Rs 50,000 to the agent for him,” Kumar said.
The boy was allegedly forced to remain locked with the cattle and not communicate with any person. In the first week of December, he managed to escape the shackles of his employers and made a phone call to his father to narrate his plight, police said.
His father, a farmer by profession, approached Kumar through a helpline number and sought help.
The agent, who is yet to be arrested, has been a prime accused in many cases of human trafficking for bonded labour in Ramgarh and its suburbs, Kumar said.
The rescued boy studied in Class 9 at a government school before being lured to Haryana by the agent, sources said.
Thousands of Jharkhand children, usually tribal, are trafficked to different parts of the country every year to work as bonded labourers and sex slaves, claim activists. These children are often subjected to physical, mental and sexual torture by their employers and agents who sell them off in the metros.
A recent report tabled at the Lok Sabha said that 98 children were trafficked from Jharkhand from January to October this year.