On their latest visit to India the ChoraChori rescue team has been investigating the case of a 16 year old boy from Bardiya, west Nepal, who has ended up in an Indian jail after being trafficked.
Gopal was taken by a fellow villager to Delhi with the promise of work and handed over to an Indian trafficker. This transfer between agents is common practice. The Indian agent put him to work in a shop that was selling alcohol illegally. Six months ago the police raided the shop and the owner fled, leaving Gopal to be arrested in his place. Someone misinformed the police that the boy was 23 and on that basis he was charged and sent to prison in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. Gopal managed to get word to his family in Nepal through a released former jail inmate who also happened to be a Nepali. The family contacted us and in parallel went to the Nepal embassy in Delhi. Although they have a birth certificate to prove that he is indeed sixteen nothing has happened to get him freed.
ChoraChori has now contacted the Child Welfare Committee in Noida and Childline Noida. The Noida Childline coordinator has since been to the jail and will visit the police station where the case was filed. At our request Childline will establish how this child has been charged as an adult and on what basis. While this is being sorted out we have asked that the boy be transferred to a Juvenile Justice Home with all haste.
We suspect that many children and young people who are trafficking victims could also be being held in Indian prisons and young offenders’ centres. Gopal was fortunate in that he was able to get a message to the outside that prompted our intervention.