Angry voters lay precondition for candidates in ChhattisgarhApril 14th, 2009 - 12:21 pm ICT by IANS
By Sujeet Kumar
Raipur, April 14 (IANS) “Save our girl children from the clutches of traffickers, and then ask for votes”, is what angry villagers of three Chhattisgarh constituencies are telling candidates when they come canvassing for votes.
Hundreds of poor families of three Lok Sabha constituencies - Surguja, Korba and Raigarh - want to know why the authorities are not able to check the rising human trafficking cases in their area.
The three constituencies, located in the state’s northern forested regions, see a large number of girls and even boys from poor families leave home to seek employment in the metros, mainly as domestic help.
However, many of the girls return home after months, and some after years, to recount tales of sexual exploitation.
Though there is no official figure, according to estimates by grassroot workers in the area, between 12,000 and 15,000 girls and boys are sent to the metros every year. The maximum number is from Surguja, around 80 percent.
When candidates went to Kamleshwar and Narmadapur villages, located in the Surguja constituency’s Mainpat area, and inhabited mainly by Urao and Manjwar tribes, they were accosted by angry villagers who demanded that the contestants first unveil their plan for tracking down the local agents who had taken away dozens of girls in recent years with false promises of providing them jobs as maids.
“We have been living in extreme backwardness and poverty for decades and the human traffickers, taking advantage of our situation, have forced several girls of the Mainpat area into prostitution outside the state. They were coaxed with false promises of getting them jobs as domestic helps in big cities. Many of our girls have been subjected to sexual harassment and some of them are untraceable,” said Badru Mandawi, 52, a resident of Kamleshwar village.
He said: “We have told the candidates of the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) and the Congress who have visited here in the past two weeks to first find a permanent solution to human trafficking. Everybody is fooling us by promising development. But we need to get over the human trafficking menace first.”
Gayaram, of Narmadapur village, said that the local police were regularly bribed by the agents. “That is why the police refuse to register our complaints. We will vote for the candidate who is ready to help us save our girls from the clutches of suppliers.”
Murarilal Singh of the BJP, contesting for the Scheduled Tribe reserved Surguja seat, said: “People here have a lot of genuine resentment over the issue.”
Congress nominee Bhanu Pratap Singh said: “Smuggling of girls from Surguja, mainly from the Sitapur assembly segment, has increased. The people are really upset with the unchecked human trafficking. They are asking me to explain why the culprits are not punished.”
Local agents take away minor girls aged between 12 and 15 years with the consent of their poor parents on the promise of a job in urban areas at a monthly income of Rs.800 to Rs.2,000. The parents are given some money as advance and lulled into believing that more money will come when their child begins to start working.
Chhattisgarh’s 11 constituencies will go to the polls in the first phase on April 16.
(Sujeet Kumar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tags: angry villagers, angry voters, backwardness, bjp, chhattisgarh, clutches, domestic help, false promises, forested regions, girl children, girls and boys, human traffickers, human trafficking, korba, lok sabha constituencies, poor families, precondition, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, surguja