Stolen Childhood

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After spending months in appalling conditions, yet another group of children who were entrusted by their parents to ‘Good Samaritans’ hailing from developed states of India in the hope of arranging a gateway from their impoverishment, were rescued from their captivity. Local police and units of child welfare committee of Bengaluru in Karnataka managed to free the group of 36 children from an illegally run children home. Before that we have heard similar tales about the ordeals of children recruited from the state who were eventually liberated from their bondages in illegal children homes and private houses located in Kerala, Rajasthan and Delhi among others. Besides subjection to tortures and forcible means to make them carry out rigorous tasks which are considered as unbearable even for adults, these children are victims of sexual violations, malnourishment and physical deformations. We are overjoyed on their new-found freedom and pray whole-heartedly for their prompt and complete rehabilitation. However, the celebration will be short-lived as long as we are haunted by the thoughts that many other innocent boys and girls from the state might be undergoing the exact sufferings and involuntary servitude right this moment and that their childhood had been snipped in the bud.  

We need to leave out past laxities behind and execute concrete measures to stop the trafficking of children from the state. As part of pre-emptive steps, hectic programme to raise awareness and mobilization to change social attitudes in vulnerable areas specially Ukhrul and Churachandpur districts and the state in general should be launched to persuade the villagers from pursuing the damaging habit of placing blind faith on outsiders (and local middlemen) who poaches for susceptible families with the lure of providing better education and employment. Also, pro-activeness on part of the state government is needed to take up punitive actions against the perpetrators. Both, the police and concerned department are aware of the modus operandi of the child traffickers in recruitment and harboring their victims and that should provide them headway in solving the cases. With the help of intelligence inputs and physical support from their colleagues from other states, whose help have been very forthcoming so far, the state police should not leave any stone unturned to take the cases to the legal conclusion. Justice will not be truly served until the child traffickers are punished and this despicable form of modern slavery is crushed, so that every child will be free to realize their God-given potential.

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