Child trafficking of Hindus from NE into Christian bases in TN

published on February 3, 2010

Child traffickers from North-East set up base in Tamil Nadu,prtpage-1.cms

CHENNAI: Hundreds of children from the northeastern states are being trafficked by well-networked groups, who have found a safe haven in Tamil Nadu. The rescue of 76 malnourished children, from Manipur and Assam, from a home at Kuzhithurai in Kanyakumari district this week is only the tip of a vast network, which receives crores of rupees from churches and agencies abroad by showing a large number of children under their “care”.

Children from Manipur, especially those belonging to the Kuki tribe, are targeted by traffickers masquerading as evangelists and missionaries as people in the insurgency-hit areas are willing to send off their children if they are promised a good education. While 1,096 children’s homes, housing 3.5 lakh children, are registered in the state, almost an equal number operate without registration, evading government scrutiny.

The children aged six to 15 are kept in pathetic conditions and are often made to do jobs like carpentry, cooking and laundry. There have even been cases of children dying under suspicious circumstances and some being molested and abused. “Hundreds of children are brought from the northeastern states to Tamil Nadu, where they are virtually apportioned among what pass off as children’s homes. A large number of these homes are not registered with any government department. We have our hands full,” says P Manorama, chairperson, Child Welfare Committee, Chennai.

Incidentally, a majority of homes charged with trafficking are run by missionaries or evangelical societies. “These institutions exploit religion to make money. With many of them not registered with the government, the homes escape scrutiny,” says Vidya Reddy of Tulir, Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse.

In 2005, Richard (11), a Manipuri inmate of ‘New Life Centre’ in Tirunelveli, died, reportedly of drowning. The following year, another boy, Pilgrim Nicobar (7), was found dead in a pond in the same home. The home’s licence was cancelled, but the investigations into the deaths yielded virtually nothing. In 2005, three girls of a children’s home in Chennai, including two from Manipur, complained that they had been molested. Police questioned the director, but there has been no follow-up.

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