Tamil Nadu: Tribal leaders thwart bid to traffic 4 girls, hand over trio to Gudalur cops

According to sources, the trio arrived in the village on Saturday in a car and started canvassing parents in the area to allow them to hire their children for household labour in Kerala.
Police on Sunday arrested the two women and a man on charges of attempting to traffic four tribal children from the Srimadurai Panchayat.
Police on Sunday arrested the two women and a man on charges of attempting to traffic four tribal children from the Srimadurai Panchayat. (Representative image)

NILGIRIS: A bid by a group of three Keralities to lure four tribal girls in Gudalur into child labour was thwarted when community leaders, finding their activities suspicious, intercepted the trio and handed them over to the Gudalur police on Saturday. Police on Sunday arrested the two women and a man on charges of attempting to traffic four tribal children from the Srimadurai Panchayat.

The arrested have been identified as T Mubharish Lal, (33) Y Sunira Kuruniyan, a broker, and I Byrusa (37), a relative of Lal. All three are natives of Malapuram district in Kerala but Sunira was residing in Srimadurai panchayat.

According to sources, the trio arrived in the village on Saturday in a car and started canvassing parents in the area to allow them to hire their children for household labour in Kerala. A tribal girl had reportedly worked at Lal’s house for three months and recently turned to the village.

“Mubharish Lal arrived in the village with a plan to take back the girl who had worked at his place earlier. Along with the two women, he also visited other houses to find more girls to do similar work. They were approaching the parents and children. They tried to convince the tribals to send four of their children with him by claiming they would provide a monthly salary of Rs 5,000 for each child,” said a police officer.

However, a few village leaders grew suspicious and picked a quarrel with the trio. They refused to send the children with them and instead handed over the Keralites at the Gudalur police station.

During their investigation, police said they learned that the tribal girl who had worked at Mubharish Lal’s house earlier had left the job as he paid only Rs 3,000 instead of the Rs 5,000 he had promised.

A case was registered against the trio under Section 370 of the IPC and Section 3 read with Section 14 of the Child Labour Act. They were remanded in judicial custody. Based on the information from Gudalur police, the Nilgiris District Child Protection Officer S Shobana found the four girls had discontinued their studies after completing class seven at the Kungru Moola Government School.

Officials to meet parents to decide on girls’ education

Shobana said the parents had been called for a meeting on Tuesday to get them to agree to admit the girls in an Ooty or Gudalur home where they can reside and continue their studies.

She said it is the first such trafficking attempt in Gudalur. “As many as 35 students in Gudalur Taluk alone are studying in homes in Ooty after they were rescued as child labourers. We will ensure they attend school regularly,” she said.

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