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IMPHAL, May 26, 2018: Manipur has emerged as the new source of cross-border human trafficking in India where 174 children go missing every day and half of them remain untraced.
On the eve of the International Missing Children's Day, child rights group CRY in a report said that young Indian boys and girls were being trafficked via Myamar to countries like Singapore after luring them with lucrative job offers.
"Manipur has become not only a source state for cross-border human trafficking but it is also being used as an easy transit route. Children are soft and easy target," the CRY report quoted Keisham Pradipkumar, member of Manipur Commission for Protection of Child Rights (MCPCR), as saying.
The report highlighted a story of a Manipuri girl, Julie (name changed), who had bagged a job opportunity abroad.
It said an employment agency took her and seven other girls to Myanmar on their way to Singapore. Their identity documents were forged in Yangon and that was when they sensed trouble.
"They were forced to lodge in a hotel in Yangon. Julie managed to call home from there," said the report.
The family contacted a child rights group in Manipur that informed the state police and took help from the Indian Embassy in Yangon. The children were rescued and six persons were arrested.
"I know I am lucky enough to be back with my family. Not everyone is as lucky as me," Julie was quoted as saying.
The report citing the data on missing children by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) said 1.11 lakh children were reported missing in 2016 and 55,625 of them remained untraced.
The data analysis by CRY suggests that more than half of all missing children in the country are concentrated in just West Bengal, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar.
"West Bengal tops the list with accounting for a whopping 15.13 per cent of all missing children in the country in 2016, while Delhi closely follows with 13.14 per cent."
On the close linkage of missing children to organised crimes, Puja Marwaha, chief of CRY, said: "It is deeply disturbing that our children go missing and we can't bring them back home.
"The evidences on ground and numbers that indicate a large number of missing children are actually trafficked, kidnapped or abducted."
The report said the organized crime of trafficking was next largest form of trans-national illegal trade after arms and drugs.
"India is no exception as it is rapidly 'gaining' the status of a vast and 'low risk' market for the procurement and use of children for a range of exploitative needs, from organ trade and child labour to commercial sexual exploitation."
The report said that the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 was on its way "one can be hopeful that the country will take robust steps in addressing the issue squarely and for good".
Image Courtesy: Times of Malta