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NEW DELHI: Promising proper education, pastors are trafficking children from the north-eastern states to Tamil Nadu and Karnataka with an oblique motive to get grants from churches and abroad, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights said in a damning report to the Supreme Court.
Inquring into recent rescue of hundreds of children trafficked from the NE states and housed in Homes illegally run by pastors in the southern states, NCPCR found that girls were even asked to give massage to the directors of these Homes and molested.
Analysing the situation in a detailed report, NCPCR said insurgency coupled with the virtual absence of government officials at the sub-district and block level to address the education, health and developmental problems have made the entire north-east an easy hunting ground for middlemen to lure out children from parents in the name of providing them proper education.
"All-out effort are being made by pastors and other category of persons who are reaching out to source areas through middlemen for getting children in order to obtain financial support from churches within the country or donations from outside," the NCPCR said in response to a direction from the apex court to inquire into the incidents.
The source areas for the pastors are Tamnglong, Senapati, Chandel, Bishnupur, Churachandpur and Imphal in Manipur, North Cachar Hills in Assam and Meghalaya. The destination states are TN, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
"The main reason for children being sent out by the poor parents to far off places in southern states is due to their high expectation of quality education for their children which is not available at their own places," the Commission said.
The other main reasons for the parents agreeing to send their children far away were no easy access to schools; lack of basic infrastructure such as road connectivity, power and hospitals; insurgency and lack of a sense of security among parents to send children walking to schools; poor financial status of parents preventing them from putting children in boarding schools; and absence of governance in sub-district and block level to address education, health and developmental problems of vulnerable families.
This provides a perfect opportunity for middlemen to exploit the situation and is being taken advantage of by pastors. But, the children get caught between the devil at home and the deep sea in the Homes in southern states, NCPCR said.
"Mostly these children from north-east who are brought to TN and Karnataka are put in Tamil and Kannada-medium schools for study. It is not easy for these children to have education in the languages which are not spoken in their states," the Commission said.
Apart from giving a series of recommendatory directions to the NE states to improve the educational and health facilities, NCPCR asked the Union HRD ministry to supply data about the number of schools and hostels in the north-east currently occupied by the armed forces.
While asking the HRD ministry to open Kendriya Vidyalayas, Navodaya Vidyalayas and model schools in the affected areas, the Commission said the Union home ministry must ensure that "the para-military forces vacate the schools and hostels occupied by them and submit an action taken report within two months to the SC".