KOLKATA: A six-member team of Kerala Police arrived at Malda in North Bengal on Monday to probe trafficking of thousands of Muslim children after the racket was busted last week in the southern state.
Out of the 123 Muslim boys, 58 were rescued from the state-based NGO Anwarul Huda Orphanage based at Vettathur in Malappuram district, but 65 are still missing. All the children hail from Harishchandrapur, Chanchal, Ratua and Manikchak block in Malda district, around 350 km from here. Malda SP Prasun Banerjee told ‘Express’ that a team from Kerala has come and our job is to provide them assistance. “It is a routine affair. I am not willing to share any information about children being trafficked which is happening all over India. If you want to know details, ask Kerala Police as it is their case.” This indicated the callousness of the district administration since the children were being trafficked from the district, exploited and also brainwashed in the name of being given education free of cost. More than 500 children from West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar were brought to Kerala on May 24 to purpotedly put them into orphanages run by Muslim bodies.
The children were taken on the pretext of free education, boarding and lodging. They were reportedly being taught Arabic, English and Malayalam. However, most of the rescued children, after returning to their villages, complained of ill-treatment and forced labour.
Hassan Ali Shah, chairman of Malda Child Welfare Committee said, “Some boys had come home for summer holidays and were returning by train with some new ones along with two men Abu Bakkar and Masilur Rahman by train without tickets. They were apprehended by the GRP at Palakkad and the Kerala Child Welfare Commission was informed, which intimated us.”
While some of the children had documents as domiciles of Kerala, most of them were declared as orphans though all of them have parents, majority of whom are agricultural labourers.
West Bengal Minister for Child and Social Welfare Shashi Panja has ordered a high-level probe as the trafficking of such a large number of children has created a social strife in the villages in other Muslim populated districts of the state like North and South Dinajpur and Murshidabad and of course in Malda.
Shah, a lawyer by profession, said that since the maulavis are under-paid they go to these Islamic schools and madrassas to teach where they are paid around `7,000 other than free boarding and lodging.