TODAY -

Alarming surge in Human Trafficking to Southeast Asia via NorthEast India

Dinesh Sharma *

   101 trafficked girls rescued at Moreh, Imphal on February 01 2019
101 trafficked girls rescued at Moreh, Imphal on February 01 2019 :: Pix - TSE



In the most recent case of Human Trafficking in NorthEast, 23 Nepali girls were rescued and 8 Rohingya women were detained in Mizoram when trying to cross over into Myanmar and then to SouthEast Asian countries. A few months ago in February, Manipur Police rescued about 180 Nepalese women who were planning to cross the Moreh border post into Myanmar from where they were scheduled to fly to Dubai and other Gulf countries.

A reported by EastMojo quotes LH Shanliana, IGP (Intelligence, Law & Order) that the Nepali girls rescued in Mizoram are believed to be heading to South-East Asian countries via Mizoram for forced prostitution. They were rescued from Aizawl and Champhai near Myanmar border last week.

One Lal Bahadur, who is now in police custody is suspected to be involved in trafficking the women. In another incident, a group of 9 Rohingya women were arrested near Assam border while en route to Aizawl. The Rohingya women revealed that they were abducted by human traffickers from a refugee camp in Bangladesh and were being sent to Malaysia.

While the rescue is a huge relief for the security forces and administration, the increasing trend of Human Trafficking from the remote NorthEast states is worrisome. The Northeast region, until now had not featured in the trafficking route. There could have been trafficking even in the past, but the volume and number of cases coming to ground recently are alarming.

Human Trafficking, as is known in the Northeast involves young people from the region, especially women are taken to bigger Indian cities and other foreign countries where they are exploited sexually and even forced in prostitution.

Every year, many trafficked young girls from the region are rescued from other places and brought back home. However, the new cases of Trafficking being reported right at home is a cause of worry for the government and the security forces as well.

In most cases, the trafficking victims are smuggled into India through the porous India-Nepal borders in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Previously, the traffickers would directly take the victims to cities like Delhi, Mumbai and other Indian cities before flying them out of the country.

However, as the security in the airports has become tighter, the traffickers are now opting for land routes, which means taking the victims all the way to states like Manipur and Mizoram from where it becomes easier to cross into Myanmar.

The security along these bordering states have been more concerned about Drugs, Arms, and illegally smuggled goods from Myanmar into India. It is only recently that cases of Human Trafficking are being highlighted from these border posts.

Mizoram, sandwiched between Bangladesh and Myanmar shares more than 700-km long international boundaries is highly vulnerable to human trafficking and is increasingly being used as safe passage by human traffickers. Moreh town in Manipur is notorious for illegal trades and smuggling, from cheap Chinese products to precious stones, contraband drugs, teak, gold, and arms.

The Manipur Alliance for Child Rights (MACR), an organization involved in the rescue in Manipur revealed that more than 300 Nepalese women have crossed into Myanmar from Moreh in recent months. The central committee of the Young Mizo Association (CYMA) reports that as many as 208 girls have been trafficked into South East Asian countries via Mizoram in recent years.

With the promise of India’s Act East Policy, the trade and mobility between India and Southeast Asia are bound to increase in coming years. While the benefits of the economic development clearly outweigh the setbacks cause by such illegal trades, it is important communities are sensitized about such issues surfacing in the region.

The authorities at the Integrated Checkpost (ICP) must be aware and remain vigilant of any such suspicious movements in the borders. There has to be a system for proper verification of IDs and travel document before people can pass, even for a short leisurely trip.

While economic progress is welcome, there has to be a system in place to ensure that the progress does not come at the cost of humanity. It is also important that the Gorkha communities living across the northeast are involved and made aware of the perils of such activities.

Wide public awareness needs to be created to make sure that people do not end up collaborating with such heinous criminals, knowingly or unknowingly.

We must not only congratulate the Police, NGOs, and authorities involved in such rescue operations, it is time that the local communities also shoulder the responsibility of keeping a check on any such suspicious activities in their neighborhood.

After the Manipur rescue operation, I had published a report “Human Trafficking at Moreh, Manipur- A concern for Northeast India” that received wide coverage in the regional media. The new cases have only confirmed my deepest fears and it is high time for both the Government and Civil Societies to step up the fight against this growing menace.


* Dinesh Sharma wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be contacted at dineshcold(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 04 2019.



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