Mizoram state, in northeast India which shares a border with Burma (Myanmar) appears to be the new hot transit zone for the illegal trafficking of girls and women.
Human trafficking and the modern slave trade, unfortunately, appears to be flourishing. The traffickers just find new sources and new routes. People in distress are the easiest victims of illegal migration and human trafficking- and currently the Rohingya refugees, which are being pushed out from Burma are obviously in great distress.
Over the past month, the state police have rescued at least 35 girls, and 8 boys.
Three days ago, twenty-three girls from Nepal, who were victims of human trafficking, were rescued in Mizoram and handed over to Nepalese authorities, police said. The victims were rescued by the Mizoram Police on April 24 from Champhi area that shares a border with Myanmar. They were handed back to Nepal three days ago.
The teenaged girls were handed over to Nepal government officials on Friday through the border transit of Kakarbhitta, along West Bengal’s Siliguri.
“Mizoram Police, the state’s Social Welfare Department and NGOs handed over the victims to the officials of Nepal’s Ministry of Women and Child Development,” Aizawl District police chief Karthik Kashyap told the media.
The government has alerted officials about the state becoming a “safe passage” for human trafficking and to keep a strict vigil over the illegal trans-border movement of people.
Earlier this month, police sources said that 24 Rohingya Muslim teenagers were rescued in Mizoram. They are currently lodged in shelter homes.
Twelve rescued Rohingya youth told the police that they were abducted by a group of men in the third week of April and brought to Mizoram in a truck. They were apparently smuggled across the border from a refugee camp in Cox Bazaar in Bangladesh . News reports say that there are over seven lakh refugees in Cox Bazaar.
“A middleman and a woman were arrested in connection with the trafficking of the Nepali and Rohingya Muslim young girls and boys,” the official said.
Local sources in Aiwzal, from where the Rohingya girls were rescued give a more detailed picture.
“The Rohingyas were rescued based on specific inputs by the Young Mizo Association (YMA). Among the 12 foreigners, some were minors who were rescued from a widow, Denghliri’s house at Edenthar locality, as informed by the Bawngkawn police. According to sources, the suspected Rohingyas were transported from Bangladesh via Assam by an unidentified driver. They entered into Mizoram without valid documents and were suspected to be moving towards Myanmar. The rescued individuals have been sent to a protective home at Edenthar located in Thingsulthliah Block of Aizawl district. As per official sources, Denghliri, from whose house the suspected Rohingyas were rescued, has been arrested for harboring them and was remanded at police custody. On interrogation, she confessed that she had harbored individuals as per the directions by her cousin identified as Madiki, living in Myanmar.
“She also told police that girls were trafficked to Myanmar from her house on five occasions by a driver named Dawnga. A search to nab the driver is on,” sources said.
Rohingya activists in India and Malaysia say both the desperate refugees and the traffickers are using the India-Myanmar border crossings in Manipur and Mizoram undertake the ”high risk” journey to Myanmar and further on to Thailand and Malaysia .
Sabber Kyaw Min, a Rohingya activist in India said many refugees in Bangladesh fear being repatriated to Myanmar after an agreement between the two countries. “The Bangladesh authorities have increased security so the journey to Malaysia by boat has become difficult,” he said.
According to Sabber, several women are travelling to Malaysia to marry while others are being trafficked. “A Rohingya in Malaysia cannot marry a local. They have to marry within the community. Also, the community is in such dire straits that people are always vulnerable to being trafficked,” he said claiming he has been in touch with families of persons who were on their way to Malaysia from Bangladesh via India and have ended up in detention in India and Malaysia earlier.