A total of 21 minors from Bihar’s Samastipur were rescued from a bus in Maidan, Kolkata on Monday. The minors were alleged victims of trafficking. Kolkata police stated that the children were aged between 12 and 14. They were brought to Howrah to work in bangle factories. Initially, they were under the impression that they had been brought to Kolkata for a picnic.
Three men who were attending the children all through their journey were in the 20s. They have been arrested on charges of human trafficking and criminal conspiracy. The children have been handed over to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC).
As per the official procedure, the family members of each of the 21 children will be contacted and asked to appear before the committee. An official stated, “The children will be allowed to go home only if the CWC is satisfied with the family members’ explanation on why they were allowed to leave home. Else, the kids will stay back in government homes”.
The bus was stopped near Babughat around 5:30 am. The police force from Calcutta and Howrah had decided to set up the night pickets to intercept the bus, following the tip from the Bachpan Bachao Andolan, an NGO, which provided them with information about the bus and the 21 children who were supposedly trafficked.
“The children underwent an overnight journey from Samastipur, around 550km from Calcutta. The plan was that the bus would stop for a while near Babughat, from where the children were to be sent to Howrah in smaller groups in various vehicles to avert police glare,” an officer said.
Bengal amounts to maximum trafficking cases in India. Around hundreds of children and women are illegally taken out of the state – with false hopes of livelihood and sometimes with false promises of marriage. “It is easy to lure poor people with money and pretension of love. Many girls in villages in South 24-Parganas go missing after falling in love with strangers, whose real identity and intention are hidden from them till it is too late. By the time they realise, the girls have been sold,” said Bappaditya Mukherjee of Prantakatha, an NGO that deals with trafficking survivors.