69 trafficked women rescued from Mizoram

Kathmandu, April 24

Indian police rescued at least 69 Nepali women, who had fallen prey to human traffickers, from the Indian state of Mizoram this week. The human trafficking victims, who were heading for Gulf countries seeking employment opportunities, were trying to cross the Indian border in Mizoram to enter Myanmar.

This is the second time in less than two months trafficked Nepali women have been rescued from the north-eastern part of India. In the first week of February, Indian authorities had rescued 179 trafficked women and men from the Indian state of Manipur. They were also planning to migrate to Gulf countries via Myanmar.

The latest rescue operation was carried out after locals reported movement of unknown women in Mizoram’s capital, Aizawl. Local activists and volunteers’ organisations then requested the Mizoram government to launch an investigation. Soon, search operations were carried out by Mizoram police and security personnel of the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau.

The women who were rescued this week were divided into four to five groups and some of them were probably below 18, according to Netra Lal Jaisi, adviser of the Mizoram Gorkha Youth Association. “The women had travel documents to enter Myanmar,” Jaisi said, adding, “The human trafficking ring leaders were also women in their late 40s.”

The rescued women have already departed for Nepal by bus, said Biswo Khadka, president of Maiti Nepal, an organisation working to curb human trafficking. They will arrive in the Nepali bordering town of Kakadbhitta in two to three days, according to Khadka.

Although these women were rescued, around 190 Nepali women have crossed the Indian border in Mizoram and entered Myanmar in the last few months, said Maiti Nepal referring to information provided by Indian authorities.

“We have evidence to confirm that 190 women have been trafficked to Myanmar, as those women had crossed the border into Myanmar from Mizoram but never returned to India using the same route,” said Jaisi.

Mizoram police are still conducting search operations to confirm the presence of more Nepali women, intending to head for Gulf countries via Myanmar, in the state.

“The government must introduce awareness campaigns to discourage Nepalis, especially women, from taking illegal routes to enter Gulf countries,” said Khadka. Many Nepali women gear up to take arduous and risky journey to migrate to Gulf countries, as the government has barred them from taking up ‘lucrative’ jobs such as caretakers or bar workers in many labour destinations because of high exploitation rate.