The entrance gate of Sun View School.

18-year-old Neeta Baraik (name change) was rescued from her captivity by her family members from the kitchen of a private school’s hostel in Arunachal Pradesh in the last week of September.

Hailing from Banhbari under Kadam Revenue Circle in Lakhimpur district, Neeta went to work in the hostel of Sun View Mission School in Damporijo of upper Subansiri district in June this year.

Her brother-in-law Bipul Gowala, who took her for the work, has been working in the same school.

Neeta was working in the kitchen of the school. However, she was subjected to sexual abuse allegedly by the principal of the school.

Besides forcing her to work for long, she complains, the principal accused her several times of stealing food.

To get rid of her problems Neeta informed her family members to rescue her from the hostel.

Her family members filed a case in Bogeenadi police station over the mater and rescued Neeta from the school hostel.

Following her rescue, Neeta’s brother-in-law Bipul was kept as a hostage by the Principal of the school accusing him of stealing money.

The principal was , however, not available for comments.

Bipul managed to escape on September 25. Now Bipul reveals that there are five more young girls from their village who have been kept like bonded labour in the same school in Damporijo.

There are four girls–Runa Horo, Shipra Dhan, Nandini Baraik and Rupanti and one Bipul Horo engaged as forced labours there, informs Bipul.

This group of young persons are now in captivity inside Arunachal Pradesh. The revelation  made by Neeta and Bipul once again confirms modern day slavery in Arunachal Pradesh.

This is also the result of the continued trafficking of persons from the inter-state border area of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in Lakhimpur district.

According to National Crime Records Bureau’s statistics of 2016, Assam ranks 10th in the country in reported cases of Human Trafficking Cases (IPC) numbering 91.

The NCRB-2016 also states that the state had trafficking of 130 persons under the age of 18 years in which 96 persons were girls.

The number of rescued persons of trafficking victims bellow the age group of 18 years in 2016 in Assam was 37 (28 girls). Assam also saw 36 cases of human trafficking meant for forced labour and 51 for sexual exploitation in 2016 (NCRB). The socio-economic condition of people living on the inter-state boundary area of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh in Lakhimpur district is also a factor for high number of trafficking of young girls and boys.

Poverty, alcoholism of the parents, debt and lack of opportunities for jobs and income generation has left a huge chunk of the young population of this region of no choice but to enter the neighbouring state for a livelihood.

Lack of awareness and indifference by the law enforcing agencies has further compounded the problem leading to tragedies like death in captivities, unpaid salaries and even missing and untraced situations in the past from the district.

In 2018 one Mangal Sai Kherwar, 28, from Rajgarh-Lilabari died while working in a timber depot in Arunachal Pradesh unreported and his body was left in Kakoi on the Assam-Arunachal boundary by his employers.

No police action was followed.

In February this year, the body of one Gabriel Turi, 19, from nearby Balijan, returned home wrapped in plastic bag from Arunachal Pradesh’s Seppa in East Kameng district.

Recently one Bisi Nag, 12, from Doolahat in Lakhimpur district brought dead home from the residence of an MLA in Naharlagun where she had worked as a domestic help.

Farhana Ahmed

Farhana Ahmed is Northeast Now Correspondent in North Lakhimpur. She can be reached at: farhana.ahmed777@gmail.com

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