A 16-year-old tribal boy from Jharkhand returned home on Monday after he was sold off as a child slave for Rs 50,000 to a Haryana businessman, who forced him to stay locked inside a cowshed for more than three months.
A Jharkhand police team rescued the boy from the businessman’s house in Haryana’s Khanpur where he was held captive and beaten, underscoring the menace of child trafficking from the poor, rural hinterland of the eastern state.
“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 Sarju Anand, the officer in-charge of Burmu police station where the boy’s parents lodged an FIR about their son on December 6.
Thousands of Jharkhand children, usually tribal, are trafficked to different parts of the country every year to work as bonded labourers as well as sex slaves, activists said. These children often undergo immense physical, mental and sexual torture from their employers and agents.
A recent report tabled at the Lok Sabha said 98 children were trafficked from Jharkhand from January to October 2015.
The rescued boy was taken to Haryana on September 16 by Deepak Lohra, a trafficker from Ramgarh, who lured him with the promise of a handsome salary and three meals a day, said Baijnath Kumar, member of Diya Seva Sansthan, an NGO that convinced the boy’s father to approach police.
Sources said the boy was studying in class 9 in a government school before he was lured to Haryana.
“His employers were not ready to let him go since they had paid Rs 50,000 to the agent,” Kumar said.
The boy was apparently locked inside the cowshed with the cattle and not allowed to talk to anyone.
In the first week of December, he managed to escape and rang up his father to narrate his plight, police said.
His father, a farmer, approached Kumar through a helpline and sought help.
The agent, who is a prime accused in several cases of human trafficking in Ramgarh and its suburbs, has yet to be arrested, Kumar said.