Human trafficking continues unabated across the world despite awareness programmes being conducted both on and offline by several government agencies and philanthropic organisations. But this menace has assumed alarming proportions in Northeast India, which has become a soft target for international human traffickers. Last week, Manipur police raided several hotels in the state and rescued more than 100 young boys and girls (mostly girls) from criminals. It was found out during the initial investigation that the young people were to be first taken to Myanmar before sending them to Dubai and Iraq. What could be their fate if they were taken across the border as planned by the criminals? Only God knows. As in most cases, they could be forced into flesh trade, bonded labour or other undignified activities. They were saved from a possible horrific ordeal this time, thanks to the state police and officials of the Social Welfare department for their swift action. But this is not an isolated incident. So many unsuspected young boys and girls from Northeast have fallen into the trap of the criminals in the past. Some have been rescued while the rest must be still going through untold suffering every day, not knowing where to go and who to approach for help. Sadly, many more could fall into such traps in the future if the law enforcing agencies and the public do not work hand-in-hand to end the menace.
Reports have suggested that Northeast has turned into a human trafficking hub of India of late with thousands of young people being taken to other parts of the country and even across the borders to be sold off to rich people as bonded labourers or forced into prostitution or even forcibly married off to unknown men from places where sex ratio is poor. The region shares international borders with countries like Myanmar, China, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan but the borders are unmanned, providing an easy passage for organised human traffickers. Instead of benefiting from the neighbouring countries through trade and business, the region has become the source, destination and transit point of many illegal activities. With India working on improving economic ties with Southeast Asian countries via Northeast (Act East Policy) by enhancing air and road connectivity with the neighbouring countries, social problems in the region could swell up if the basic problems that make the people of the region vulnerable to fraudsters are not addressed. The society should cease to live in denial and accept the fact that human trafficking is rampant in the region. And the issue will continue until acute unemployment crisis in the region is solved.