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A migrant worker in Assam sold his 15-day-old daughter for Rs 45,000, driven by lack of work and poverty amid the COVID-19 crisis. The police were able to rescue the baby on time.
The migrant labourer and two women have been arrested on the charge of human trafficking.
An official of an NGO working against human trafficking said that the migrant, Dipak Brahma, was a resident of Dhantola Mandaria, a forest village in Kokrajhar district. He recently returned from Gujarat, where he worked as a labourer. He was jobless and found it hard to support his family amid the pandemic.
After Dipak returned, the family began living at the house of his in-laws in Kochugaon Patakata village in the same district.
Amid the crisis, Dipak's wife gave birth to a second daughter, the first being a year old.
"Brahma tried to find a job during the pandemic but it was hard to come by. With almost all doors to earn a living closed, Brahma decided to sell the newborn," said Nedan Foundation chairman Digambar Narzary.
On July 2, Dipak sold his daughter to two women, keeping his wife in the dark. After the incident came to light, Dipak's wife and other villagers lodged a complaint at Kochugaon police station.
"On receiving the complaint, police swung into action and rescued the baby from the two sisters. We also arrested the man (Brahma)," police said.
The two women who had bought the baby, upon interrogation, claimed that they had bought the baby for a childless couple they knew.
"We are really thankful to the police for rescuing the baby. But the issue is of very serious nature. Because of the lockdown, poor people do not have any work. The situation is getting worse for those living in forest villages," Narzary said.
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