The urge to escape depressing poverty has for years forced the Nepalese to cross over to India, either legally or illegally. However, the April 25 earthquake that ravaged large parts of the neighbouring country seems to have pushed the illegal exodus in an unprecedented way.
According to home ministry data, human trafficking from Nepal has seen a three-fold jump after the quake. Compared to 2014, human trafficking from Nepal has seen a 500 per cent rise in 2015, with two months yet to go. Most victims being trafficked after the quake are children, the figures have revealed.
In the four months preceding the quake, as many as 47 children were rescued by the SSB while traffickers were trying to cross the Indo-Nepal border with them. However, after the quake, this number rose by over three times. Between April 25 and October 10, SSB rescued 159 children — all from hill districts of Nepal that were badly affected in the quake.
The numbers look more frightening when one compares the data for 2015 with that of 2014. Till September this year, SSB rescued 206 Nepalese children from the clutches of human traffickers. The figure shows a jump of over 500 per cent from the 2014 numbers, when only 33 children were rescued from the grasp of traffickers.
On May 22, 2015, barely a month after the earthquake ravaged large parts of Nepal’s hill districts, a team of Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) officials noticed a group of 15 children accompanied by a man trying to cross the border into Jogbani in Bihar.
The group was detained owing to the “suspicious” nature of its movement. During questioning, it was found that the man accompanying the children was Kharak Lal Rajbhongshi, a human trafficker from Nepal’s Morang district. The children were being taken to Punjab. They had been promised jobs that would pay them Rs 6,000-8,000 per month.
On June 12, an SSB team arrested three traffickers from Nepal’s Nawaparasi district who were trying to get seven children across the border into UP’s Sanauli. The children had been promised jobs in Mumbai.
Following the incidents, vigilance on the border was beefed up and many other groups of children led by traffickers were apprehended. The frequency, according to SSB, was unprecedented.
“Most children we found hailed from quake-affected districts of Nepal. The traffickers had lured them by promising jobs in India or in Arab countries,” SSB DG B D Sharma said.
SSB sources said most victims were minors with boys and girls in equal proportion. There is widespread poverty in the hill districts of Nepal and the quake has only made things worse. “This has made these districts a hunting ground for traffickers. In many cases, we found that these children had been brought by their own relatives or acquaintances,” said a senior SSB officer.