LUCKNOW — Lured with a toffee by a sweet-talking female neighbour, a six-year-old boy from Rampur was sold twice and was forced to work for a Lucknow vendor like an orphan before being rescued.
Revealing his traumatic experience to media persons, Farooq, who forgot his real name, recalled that he belonged to Sawast Thadi village of Rampur where his father Prem Pal had a small transport business.
His family consisted of mother Pushpa, elder sister Shikha who was married and a younger sister Shivani who was staying with his parents. Everything was going hunky dory when an acquaintance from Khurja, whom he identified as Meena, came to him and promising to buy him toffee, she took him to a market.
Later, she forcibly took Farooq to Aligarh and kept him in a locked room. A few months later, Meena sold Farooq to Babu for Rs120,000. Farooq claimed that Meena and her son were involved in human trafficking. While Meena kidnapped children and kept them for a few months before selling the victims to Babu, the latter sold them to potential clients or ‘leased’ them as labourer for a monthly fee.
Farooq said that Babu first deputed him at a tea stall before he was handed over to Haroon of Khurja a year back. Haroon used to sell potteries and is currently in Lucknow. Farooq added that Haroon had rechristened him ‘Farooq’.
As a helper, Farooq used to get two modest meals and clothes. Besides, Haroon paid Rs450 per month to Babu for taking his services. Farooq claimed that Meena and Babu had the ‘custody’ of several children.
The boy revealed that Meena was once arrested on the same charges but she managed to escape. The time-ravaged boy warily said: "I want to go back home and be with my parents. So far, no one has come forward to help me fulfil my dream."