Shikha Kumari Paharin reports for Indiaunheard from Sahebganj, Jharkhand.
Behulia Paharin of Boriya village in Sahebganj District went missing in May 2014. She was taken to Gurgaon and made to do household work along with three other kids. Correspondent Shikha made a video about the issue and showed it to the Police officers at Boriyo but no action was taken. Shikha managed to file a missing persons complaint but the inaction, negligence and allegations from the authorities kept intensifying. Shikha then submitted a written application to the Superintendent of Police, Sahebganj. After 19 days of filing this application with the SP, on 19th August 2014, Behulia was returned to her home town by the same people who took her. She was paid no money for the work she was made to do for three months and confirmed presence of many other girls who were trafficked and kept in the same place.
According to data from the NCRB, mere eight thousand and ninety nine cases were reported in the year 2014 concerning human trafficking. But if one was to believe multiple NGOs working on the issue, each year, more than 20,000 children and approximately 100,000 girls are trafficked from Jharkhand. Being primarily a tribal belt rampant with poverty and unemployment, Jharkhand is one of the main hubs of human trafficking in India. West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Tamil Nadu are not too far behind. Even if one considers the data from NCRB to be precise, there has been a 65% rise in crimes related to human trafficking in 2014 and it has surged 14 times over in the last ten years. Shikha was able to create pressure using her video and continuous efforts made by her along with the community ensured Behulia’s safe return. Otherwise, Behulia could have been stuck forever. Various reports from around the country confirm the plight of trafficked people, women in particular, who are either abducted or taken on pretext of a job. They are forced to work in flesh trade, forced to bear children or sexually abused by buyers. Many of the rescued women from such rackets say they are still being tracked by the trafficker. Number of women trafficked is increasing worldwide and tribe like the Pahariyas are often targeted by traffickers. Pahariya is a primitive tribal group and destructive developmental plans are forcing an otherwise forest dwelling tribe to migrate in search of livelihood. Behulia’s safe return is nothing short of a miracle – the abductors were so scared that they had to return her safely. But, they still roam free – all of them – and as per Behulia, trafficking even more girls from the region.
Behulia’s story changed and for good. But that may not be the case for the rest of women trapped in this ring. The best way to tackle this is immediate action. The sooner the action is taken, higher the chances of safe retrieval. If you know of any such cases, you can call on the toll free number 1800 – 3456 – 531 for Action against trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children Foundation. One call from you can change someone’s life.
Also watch the video that started the change: