[ Tongam Rina ]
A mother from Kra Daadi wrote a letter to Governor BD Mishra, stating that a man, who she owed money, has sold her daughter off.
On 3rd May, when the letter reached the Raj Bhavan, the governor’s secretariat wrote to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) here in Itanagar to initiate immediate rescue and rehabilitation.
The mother had written that she had borrowed money from someone but was unable to return it.
Someone had then offered to pay off the debt, but on the condition that she and her husband cast their vote in favour of a particular candidate in Koloriang constituency.
According to the mother, she voted for the candidate, but the money was not paid to her.
In the meantime, she said that another person who she owed money to sold off her daughter.
Investigation followed and it is revealing.
It is a tragic account of a family in debt, unregulated loan interests, broken family, of separation and traumatised childhood. It is also a story of compassion, of hope, intervention and how government agencies can do wonders if they coordinate well and intervene on time.
The CWC got down to work and traced the mother, who then told the team where her child was.
The child told the team that she was not forcibly brought to Naharlagun and that her elder sister was also staying with the same family.
The children told the team that their parents were not staying together for the last couple of years.
The person with whom the children were staying told the CWC team that the father of the children had borrowed money from everywhere, which had accumulated to Rs 7 lakhs with interests. He had helped the father pay off some of the debt.
The father had apparently asked the person to take care of his children in January this year, and he had brought them from Palin. He says that the mother had visited the children on 22 April.
The person says that he was helping the children since they were from the same village and that he was planning to send the children to school in the new session.
After investigation and questioning, the CWC sent the child to a short-stay home.
Oju Welfare Association chairperson Ratan Anya said that the child is now admitted to a private school and that her association will bear the fees for her education.
Kani Nada Maling, the chairperson of the CWC Itanagar says that she is pleased that the child is getting the required care and education and that the committee has dealt with many such similar cases.
“It’s a vicious cycle. We cannot send the child back to the families, so children end up at short-stay homes,” Kani says.
She was also impressed that the Raj Bhavan acted promptly and Governor Mishra made it a point to inquire about the progress of the child.
“The governor told us that he would not sleep till the child was rescued. He called us to thank us and sent sweets after the child was rescued. It’s a huge encouragement for my team,” Kani says.
Someone sending sweet is a departure from usual reception. Whenever a child is rescued, the CWC or the Childline teams are threatened, and physically and verbally assaulted.
What happened to the mother? She remains in hiding.
(The readers can call CHILDLINE toll-free number-1098 for any child related cases. The names of the callers are not revealed)