Although it did not make headlines, 31 poor tribal girls, all minors, from Assam brought to Delhi on June 11 last year have ended up in RSS-run schools in Gujarat and Punjab, as Cobrapost finds, which is part of a well-orchestrated conversion programme targeting children from poor minority communities to initiate them into Hinduism at a young age. Given the resources and reach the RSS and its sister organizations command, what Cobrapost investigation reveals may just be the tip of the iceberg
On June 11, 2015, 31 tribal girls deboarded the Poorvottar Sampark Kranti Express (Train No. 12501) at about 7.40 p.m. at the New Delhi Railway Station, tired and disheveled.
However, no sooner had they touched down personnel from Anti-Human Trafficking Unit of the Crime Branch of Delhi Police, Government Railway Police (GRP) and other agencies swooped down upon them and their two women handlers, Korbi and Sandhya, both associated with Sewa Bharati, a social service organization of the RSS.
The agencies had been tipped off by Child Line India Foundation, an NGO working for the protection of child rights in India since 1996, alleging that these poor girls, all minors aged between 8 and 14 years, were being trafficked.
The girls were to be picked by one Ramanikbhai of Halwad in Gujarat and Bina of Patiala in Punjab, both working for the RSS, and before the authorities could establish a case of trafficking and rescue the girls from their handlers, a mob of about 200 descended on the station.
Within hours the girls were handed over to their new handlers, who would take them to their respective towns, after the authorities conveniently found the reason of their movement from Assam valid: education. The event did not make any headlines as the authorities pushed the matter under the carpet.
However, the motive of the alleged trafficking is least altruistic, as a Cobrapost investigation finds.
Although some authorities and individuals involved in this case whom Cobrapost met tried to brush the allegation of trafficking aside and even claimed that the girls had been moved out of Assam for their own good, their new guardians have no qualms in admitting with a sense of pride that the girls have been brought in with the sole aim of converting them to Hinduism.
In other words, it is proselytization at work, or Ghar Wapasi as the RSS and its affiliates would like to call it, disguised as social service.
The first authority to raise a stink was Sushma Vij, Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), Mayur Vihar, Delhi.
Apart from Sushma Vij who was, contrary to what her official report says, quite critical of the way the girls had been moved out of Assam to Gujarat and Punjab and questioned the motive behind it, Cobrapost reporter met and spoke with all the major players in this episode.
He visited Halwad in Gujarat to meet Ramanikbhai at the Saraswati Shishu Mandir he runs where 20 girls out of 31 are receiving education RSS style and Patiala in Punjab where he met Bina, the caretaker of the Mata Gujari Kanya Chhatravas where the rest of the girls have been put, and Jyotika, an RSS Pracharika.
Curiously enough, this girls’ hostel had already been shifted to new premises in an innocuous place and the Cobrapost reporter had a tough time locating it.
In order to complete the investigation, Cobrapost reporter visited Nakheda village in Chirang district of Assam and met some of the parents who had been persuaded by the RSS workers to give away their darling daughters on the pretext of providing them free education, and, yes, as the parents claim they had been offered money as well to part ways with their daughters.
Our investigation into the alleged trafficking establishes the fact that these poor tribal girls from Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Gopalpara and Chirang areas of Assam were taken away from their homes without properly informing the appropriate authority of the state and seeking their approval.
Written consent of the parents was not obtained either.
The Child Welfare Committee and other such agencies of Assam, Delhi, Gujarat and Punjab, which ought to be duly informed under the child protection and anti-trafficking laws that govern the movement of children from one state to another, were bypassed.
Ending up in the RSS-run shelter homes and educational institutions, these girls are being initiated into or, in other words, converted to Hinduism to serve its cause.
However, what our investigation reveals may just be the tip of the iceberg as the RSS and its affiliates have been working overtime on this agenda for many decades across the country.