Belgaum: For the police investigating a case of an alleged sale of a young girl from Kadtanbagewadi village under Nandgadh police station limits of Khanapur taluk, the matter is almost "closed" with the return of Manjavva from Rajasthan.
But her return from a place that is far away raises questions on what is suspected to be well-organised human trafficking in disguised form.
Manjavva left her home with her aunt, Nagavva, for Kolhapur on February 9. The next day, she along with Sanjeev, Nagavva’s husband, reportedly left for Pali, a tourist destination in Rajasthan.
The villagers suspected foul play and there were rumours that Manjavva was sold to some persons. After the matter came to the notice of Deputy Commissioner Shalini Rajneesh and the district unit of National Federation of Indian Women, and the police warning Manjavva’s mother Shantavva Vithal, Manjavva returned on Sunday.
This incident is being seen in the light of several such incidents where people, belonging to the economically weaker and socially backward sections, are allegedly giving away their young daughters in marriage to men in Rajasthan and Gujarat. There are reports of a good number of families claiming to be north Indian Jains giving away their daughters in marriage to rich men in Rajasthan and Gujarat. Sometime ago, a Jain youth reportedly carried out a survey in some of the villages in Khanapur taluk and nearby areas of Belgaum and claimed that several young girls from Shedbal, Bastwad, Halga, Parishwad, Khanapur and other villages near Belgaum were being "sold" or married off for a consideration ranging between Rs. 25,000 and Rs. 60,000 to men in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh.
According to sources in the district Women and Child Development Department, instances of parents giving away their daughters in marriage to men from Rajasthan and Gujarat are being reported from Chigtankoppa, Hiremunoli, Avarotti, Itagi, Attiholi, Kamsinkoppa, Kagganagi, Chikmunoli and Parishwad. The possibility of such marriages taking place through "agents" is not ruled out. It is said that such matters are brokered through agents at the weekly fair held at Parishwad.
In the present case, what is bothering the women’s organisations is the fear of minor girls being given away in marriage. Manjavva is about 14 years. She is the second daughter of Shantavva, 35, who has four other daughters. Her husband died about five years ago. Manjavva and her elder sister, Sangeeta (16), have not gone to school and have been assisting their mother in eking out a living. Their three younger sisters are going to a local school.
Nagavva, younger sister of Shantavva, came from Kolhapur and took Manjavva along with her on the evening of February 9. It is said that Nagavva is not aware of her husband Sanjeev’s vocation, but only that he is on some job in Pali.
When activists of NFIW’s Khanapur unit and senior officials of Women and Child Development Department visited Kadtanbagewadi two days ago to ascertain the whereabouts of Ms. Manjavva, Ms. Shantavva maintained that she had sent her daughter along with her sister since Manjavva was upset over a petty domestic issue and believed that she would return home soon. However, when the matter was taken to the police, Ms. Shantavva was told to produce Manjavva at the earliest.
Now that Manjavva has returned home, the Nandgadh police told The Hindu that there is no case.