JAIPUR: Sixty children in the age group of 8 to 16 who were mortgaged by their poor parents in lieu of money to work in neighbouring states of Rajasthan are reported ‘missing.’
The above charge by Bharatiya Tribal Party legislator Raju Kumar Raot, stunned the Rajasthan Assembly on Wednesday, bringing to the fore a new and vicious chapter of child trafficking in the state.
Raot while raising the issue said the children stated to be missing have been ‘rented’ out by their poverty-ridden parents to work as labourers and domestic helps for people in states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra. They belonged to the poorest of the poor tribes, he added.
For the last few years, the tribal region of Vagad has been battling child trafficking. Many villages in Banswara, Dungarpur and Pratapgarh districts - all dominated by Bhils and other such tribes - have been forced to mortgage their children for money varying between Rs 20,000 and Rs 40,000 for up to two years.
The families are often contacted through middlemen by farmers or urbanites looking for children to work on their farms, or as domestics. Some money is paid upfront to the family to help them tide over their problems- mostly exacerbated by rank poverty and unemployment.“It is shameful. Where are the welfare schemes that the government talks about so often? What happened to projects for free education, free medicine and mid-day meals?” Raot accused.
Leader of Opposition Gulab Chand Kataria referred to an eight-year old boy who was recovered from Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar and put in the care of Bal Kalyan Samiti on June 5 by officials and later sent back to Rajasthan. He informed the house that the child was mortgaged for Rs 40,000 and was found crying near a hotel. “It’s a black spot on Rajasthan and we need to rise above party lines and come up with a solution,” said Kataria.