KOLKATA: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is probing the alleged trafficking of children from Malda district in North Bengal to madrasas in Kerala.
The NIA has begun its probe based on the reports of state intelligence branch and Central intelligence agencies that 58 Muslim children from Malda, 350 km from here, who were rescued from Kerala-based Anwarul Huda Orphanage at Vettathur in Malappuram last month was a not a “simple case of child trafficking”.
“A six-member CID team from Kerala led by DySp Basheer had toured Harishchandrapur, Chanchal, Ratua and Manikchak blocks for three days. They told us that it was not a case of child trafficking,” Hassan Ali Shah, chairman of Malda Child Welfare Committee, told Express on Saturday.
He said the Kerala Police were of the opinion that the children had been sent by their families as they were very poor and could not even afford a proper meal, not to speak of education. They were lured by the maulavis with assurances of free education, and boarding and lodging.
A district child protection team from West Bengal, which visited Anwarul Huda orphanage, was shocked to find that not only boys, but also girls had been taken to the orphanage.
Some of them told the district child welfare body that they were taught Arabic, Malayalam and English and were very happy there, while others expressed their desire to return home.
Shah, a lawyer by profession, explained that since the maulavis and muezzins were paid a pittance as stipend from the state government, they had taken up the job of teaching in Islamic schools and madrasas, where they were paid around `7,000 in addition to free boarding and lodging.
Initially the maulavis were appointed on contract basis, but were later offered permanent posts, if they brought at least 10 children each. It resulted in them luring children from West Bengal to Kerala, he said.
“The maulavis convinced poor people to send their wards to such institutions. Of the rescued children, 11 wanted to return and study there. We have helped the remaining children to get admission in schools near their villages,” Shah said.
According to a state IB official, the agency is also investigating whether children from other Muslim majority districts such as North and South Dinajpur and Murshidabad were also being taken.