The central government had sent an advisory to all states three months ago, laying down several measures to combat human trafficking, but eight of those states, including Maharashtra, UP and J&K have still not enacted on the norms yet.
The Indian Express reported on Tuesday that the advisory, issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, included prevented measures against human trafficking, especially of children from families that faced severe financial troubles due to the Covid-19 lockdown. The MHA also asked the states to form Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) in every district on a “most urgent basis”.
However, according to the report, UP and Maharashtra are among the six states that have not reached even the basic norm that was mapped out 10 years ago which was focused on the setting up of AHTUs in at least 50 per cent of police districts. While UP has only 35 units for 75 districts, Maharashtra has a mere 12 for 36 districts.
Last week, News18 reported that human trafficking cases in India hit a three year-high in 2019, according to the latest data available with National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
“Traffickers often exploit the vulnerabilities of people by making false promises of a new job, better income, better living conditions and support to their families, etc. While such promises of perpetrators appear legitimate to people, unfortunately it makes many men, women and children easy prey for exploitation,” a July 6 letter by the Home Ministry, signed by Deputy Secretary Arun Sobti, states.
In 2019, a total of 6,616 human trafficking cases were registered in the country, which is far higher than the 5,788 cases registered in 2018 and 5,900 cases in 2017. The previous year also saw a drop in conviction rates of trafficking cases - from 29.4% in 2018 to 22% in 2019.
Maharashtra, which is yet to put the latest MHA mandates in place, had in 2019 registered the highest number of human trafficking cases - 986 - of which 95 pertained to minors and the remaining 936 pertained to victims above 18 years of age.
Delhi where a total of 608 cases were registered in 2019 had the second highest number of trafficked minors at 536. From 2017 to 2019, Delhi reported the second-most cases of trafficking of minors among the states and Union Territories (UTs).
The national capital was also the only place in the country, among 36 states and UTs, where human trafficking cases took place with the aim of 'removal of organs'. Four such cases were registered in Delhi.
In 2019, Rajasthan saw highest number of cases where minors were trafficked. Out of the total 653 cases, 636 pertained to boys and the remaining 17 to girls.
Out of the cases investigated by various police departments, sexual exploitation in the form of prostitution was found to be the number 1 reason for human trafficking and Maharashtra reported the highest of such cases at 946, followed by Telangana at 322, and Andhra Pradesh at 316.
Other major reasons listed for human trafficking were forced marriage, for which most cases were registered in Assam; domestic servitude with Manipur recording highest cases; and forced labour, the category in which Bihar saw most cases.