Assam Assembly discusses steps to check women trafficking in NE

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Guwahati, Apr 1 (UNI) The issue of women trafficking in the North East, which is assuming worrying proportions over the years, was today discussed in the Assam Assembly, with the government pledging action against anyone involved in it.

Cutting across party lines, the Assam Legislators, led by the women MLAs, including Deputy Speaker Pranati Phukan, took up the matter during Zero Hour discussions.

State Cabinet Minister Rockybul Hussain, replying on behalf of the government, informed of the tough stand being taken against the women traffickers and those involved in any way with such rackets.

Against 150 trafficking cases registered between 2001-07, 411 persons were arrested, with chargesheets filed in 48 cases and investigations pending in 82 cases.

Molestation and harassment of NE students, especially girls in metropolitan cities, also figured in the discussion, with the minister informing that a DIG was appointed in New Delhi to deal with such cases.

The Legislators who spoke on the issue included Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) MLAs Dr Alaka Sharma and Sushila Hazarika, BPF MLA Kamali Basumatary, Congress MLAs Dr Malaya Barman and Kamal Singh Narzary - the lone male MLA to speak during the discussion.

Deputy Speaker Phukan, participating in the deliberations, highlighted the economic plight and illiteracy of the womenfolk as a major reason for exploitation.

She added that women were victims of not only trafficking but also domestic violence and though legislations were in place to protect them, illiteracy was a major hindrance.

Mr Hussain pledged strict action against anyone found involved in human trafficking, including any ''prominent and powerful'' person.

He informed that the SPs of all districts had been instructed to initiate action on any information in trafficking issues, adding that a special women's police station was already established in Guwahati and the CID also had a women's cell to deal with such issues.

''Today's discussions in the Assembly should ring alarm bells for those involved in trafficking rackets that the government as well as the people will be on the alert now to avert such crimes,'' Mr Hussain said.

Conceding that economic backwardness was a reason for trafficking, the minister said the issue needed multi-dimensional handling and appealed for cooperation from all quarters.

UNI SG DPM KLC1402

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