Human Traffickers in Parliament
Every BJP Manifesto boasts of “Shuchita” (probity in public life) as a fundamental principle of its party. But the Hawala scam, the Tehelka expose of corrupt defence deals by NDA Government, the sight of BJP President Bangaru Laxman caught taking bribes on camera in a defence deal, the massive scam by BJP in allotment of petrol pumps, the cash-for questions scam in which most of the MPs were from the BJP – and now a BJP MP from Gujarat Babubhai Katara being caught red-handed in human trafficking have made a mockery of those pious claims of “Shuchita”.
As BJP MP from Dahod (near Godhra) Babubhai Katara was one of prominent figures who led the attacks on Muslims in tribal areas during the Gujarat genocide. His son still faces charges of having killed several people during the 2002 pogrom. Recall that this is the same BJP whose Gujarat Government in 2003 slapped false charges of human trafficking on Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi danseuse Mallika Sarabhai in 2003, in order to harass her for becoming party to a petition filed in the Supreme Court demanding speedy justice for the 2002 genocide victims.
It appears that Katara is part of a huge human-trafficking ring of national, maybe international dimensions, and has committed the same offence before. The unfortunate woman he was smuggling is from Punjab – one of hundreds of women abandoned by their husbands who marry them, take huge dowries, and then dump them at home and go abroad. And what the 14-year-old minor boy was being taken abroad for without a guardian, is anyone’s guess… Is this ‘Gujarat Gaurav’? Is this the ‘Suraksha’ that BJP promises in its manifesto?
Neither is Katara the only one involved in this scam. The sheer staggering scope of the scam can be sensed by the report submitted before Parliament by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), stating that hundreds of blank passport booklets and thousands of visa stickers have been found missing or stolen from at least 16 Indian missions and posts abroad. Several other MPs from Andhra Pradesh (of the Telengana Rashtra Samiti (TRS)) and the BSP have also been implicated in the scam. All over the country, the poor, especially women and children, are desperate for employment – and seek jobs in the international domestic labour market as well as the sex trade. It is these people who become fodder for the human traffickers.
Unwilling to face up to the complicity of MPs and political parties in this massive human scam, the UPA Government has hit out at the most vulnerable target. It has banned women under 30 from getting emigration clearances as domestic workers, on the plea that these women are later coerced into prostitution! Robbing these women of their right to employment can be no substitute for ensuring their safety and nailing those in power who cash in on their vulnerability.
The human trafficking scam is not just a matter of corruption – it is nothing short of a crime against humanity to exploit the desperation of people to milk them for lakhs of rupees. Parliament cannot stop at ordering a probe and politely asking such MPs not to attend sessions pending the probe. All MPs implicated in this scam must be immediately dismissed from Parliament, and a thorough independent probe must be conducted into the links of these individual MPs as well as parties in the human trafficking racket. However much the BJP and Indian Parliament dismiss Katara as a ‘bad apple’, the fact is that both the cash-for-questions scam and the human trafficking racket are signals of the ever-plummeting standards in Parliamentary practice.