Derek O’Brien makes a Point of Order on maintaining the integrity of Parliament


Sir, please refer to Rule 29. We seek your protection because it is thanks to you, Sir that we managed to get a meeting between the Government and the Opposition, the meeting which the Honourable Leader of the House was referring to about Bills, even though we are not referring to what percentage was passed last time. The Opposition together had a list of six Bills, four which were passed, a plus.

Sir, we seek your protection, that we want to examine these Bills. If the Government has the numbers, it can pass the Bills but let us fight for the integrity of Parliament. That is what I want to ask for.

Derek O’Brien raises a Point of Order on the scrutiny of Bills passed in Parliament 


Sir, this is regarding Rule 29. I was listening to the Minister’s long list of business proposed for the next one week. The Standing Committees have not been formed; none of the Bills, except the Motor Vehicles Bill, have been scrutinised.

Therefore my appeal through you, Sir, to the Government is that we have already passed 11 Bills without scrutiny, nine more have been listed for next week, that means 11 and nine, 20 Bills are passing legislation and there is no parliamentary scrutiny and there is no Standing Committee. Please, you need to help us on this, Sir.


Derek O’Brien raises a Point of Order on transaction of government business in Rajya Sabha


Sir, I quote Rule 23 on the arrangement of Government business. 

On days allotted for the transaction of Government business that business shall have precedence and the Secretary-General shall arrange that business in such order as the Chairman after consultation with the Leader of the Council may determine”

Sir, my limited point today. Two points – both on this rule – let me make them. One Sir, on the Short Duration Discussion. The Chairman has been very kind, Sir, and has agreed to allow one every week. So many members from different parties have signed that notice of Short Duration Discussion on electoral reforms and free and fair elections. That was supposed to be taken up today, we all agreed, at 2 PM. 

Now, yesterday, at about 3 PM, the government brought a supplementary list of business (it is their right to bring a supplementary list of business) on the reservation in educational institutions. The supplementary list of business came at 3 PM and the discussion started at 3:15 PM. Sir, members have the right to be given 24 hours to move an amendment; that right was not given to us, Sir. 

Having said that, today at 2 PM, we still have two and a half hours to discuss this Bill on education, which we will discuss and pass. But Sir, then our Short Duration Discussion will start at 4:30-5 PM, and finish at 6 PM; then it will become meaningless. 

My request to you, Sir, is that since the motion for the discussion has been moved by me, and signed by other parties, I request, through you Sir, the government, please start the Short Duration Discussion at 2 PM. We will wrap it up and then discuss the Bill. 


Derek O’Brien speaks on The Jammu & Kashmir Reservation (Amendment) Bill, 2019


Sir, today is a sad day. This morning, again in bus accident in Jammu & Kashmir in a gauge, 33 people lost their lives. Last week approximately 21 people lost their lives. These accidents keep happening and all of us, we tweet our condolences. The government of the day offers a package and then we get ready for the next accident and then life goes on. All of us need to work towards reducing these kinds of accidents, so that families don’t have to grieve like they are grieving today. 

Sir, two quick pints before I get into the resolution and the Bill; whenever I go to Jammu & Kashmir I am always requested that whenever you speak about Jammu & Kashmir, charcha jab hota hai, Ladakh aur Leh ka naam aap please lijiye Parliament mein.  So that is what we will all do. 

Sir, another quick point before we get to the meat of the debate. Sir, as Opposition members we always feel that when senior ministers come and respond to us, some of the points we raise maybe responded to because then we feel its a two-way debate. So, that is my request to the Home Minister today as well; because we raised, as an Opposition, some important points in the Motion of Thanks. One was on the Women’s Reservation Bill. Sir we didn’t get an answer. On the breakdown of institutions we didn’t get an answer. On electoral reforms, I’m a little more hopeful because the Prime Minister discussed it in his speech and now I am told that the Rajya Sabha is taking it up as a discussion on at least electoral reforms, especially the state funding of elections and the collegiums which must be set up for the EC. And, of course, federalism.

I am very hopeful that the Hon’ble Home Minister will answer some of these questions, because I remember on the May 17, 2019, he did have a historic press conference where he answered some questions on behalf of the Prime Minister. 

Sir, the Prime Minister talks to us about ‘One Nation, One Election’, one of the electoral reforms and many speakers before this have also brought it up. If you are having the parliament election, why didn’t you have the state election? Same booth, same time of the year, everything is the same. In fact, Rajnath Ji assured this House in January, “if the EC wants to have, we will have it”. Hon’ble Home Minister in the Lok Sabha said again, “if the EC wants to have it, we will have it”. On March 10, 2019 the elections were announced. On March 11, 2019 the EC appointed three observers. The House must know this, Sir, for Jammu & Kashmir. On April 15, 2019 these three observers of the EC submitted a report and in that report which was submitted by the EC it was said that it was conducive to polls. 

My party will support this resolution to have elections because we do believe that if this spirit of April 15, their observation, is taken, then in six months along with the other States, we should have polls. Let us not pass the buck to the EC because I don’t want to discuss the EC because there iss Rule 238 and we can discuss that matter. 

Sir, the second one, in the Other House, the Home Minister mentioned that three families have run the state of Jammu & Kashmir for the last 60 years. Yes, may be the HM would like to clarify in his reply that in the next 10 years, or 20 years, given an opportunity that his party will not touch any of the parties which are run by these three families. Let him give us an assurance on the floor of the House. Because his critics then might say, yes that for 60/70 years three families have run one state of Jammu & Kashmir but currently the nation is run by two families. 

My fourth point is regarding the Governor. This is another very important issue which I seek clarification on. Just after Pulwama, the Governor of the State of Jammu & Kashmir said, “Laparwahi huyi hain.” Kisne kiya yeh laparwahi? Who was responsible for this failure?

Sir even though I have to repeat that point again, in the last two years, out of 10 Bills passed, four were Ordinances. That number has to come down. Another Minister came and said last week, that we have to pass these Ordinances because the House was not running. You can not imply that the opposition is disrupting the House. The Government has to run the House with the Opposition. 

Now, Sir, come to the next point, which is Article 1 of the Constitution. “India that is Bharat is a Union of States”. Sir, now, on federalism, because the extension President’s Rule, affects the power of the State. Sir, with your permission I would speak for the next few minutes in Bangla.

এই যাকে আমরা বলি Federalism, যুক্তরাষ্ট্রীয় কাঠামো, এটাই সংবিধানের Spirit. জম্মু ও কাশ্মীর হোক, This is the core of federalism and since we have the Home Minister here, Sir, আম্বেদকরজী বলেছেন, আমি বলিনি, কংগ্রেস বলেনি, বিজেপি বলেনি, আম্বেদকর যেটা বুঝিয়েছেন, যখন যুদ্ধ হচ্ছে না, তখন সংবিধান হচ্ছে unitary. That means, only in times of war, the Constitution is unitary. Otherwise, Sir, it is federal in nature rest of the time. Centre must have hands off the State. কিন্তু, Sir, আজকে আমি স্বরাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রীকে জানাতে চাই, এই Federal spirit কাশ্মীর হোক, বাংলা হোক, উত্তর প্রদেশ হোক, কেরল হোক, বিহার হোক, মধ্যপ্রদেশ হোক, আপনি সাতদিনে বাংলায় দুটো অ্যাডভাইসরি পাঠিয়েছেন, আপনি কিন্তু উত্তর প্রদেশে কোনও অ্যাডভাইসরি পাঠাননি ওখানে ২৫ জন মারা যায়, বিহারে ১৩০ জন মারা যায়, আপনি কোনও অ্যাডভাইসরি পাঠাননি। Sir, the essence of Kashmir is exactly this. To leave the states alone.

Sir, this is a council of States so allow me to use examples of my State to make my point. 

কিছুক্ষণ আগে এখানে বিজেপির থেকে যিনি বললেন যে আমি কোনও রাজনীতি করব না, তারপরে কংগ্রেসকে ঠুকে দিলেন ৫০ বছরের জন্য। কংগ্রেস কংগ্রেস করলেন। আমি এখানে রাজনীতি করছি না, বাস্তব বলছি। দুদিন আগে বিজেপির বড় বড় বাংলার নেতা কি বললেন? “আপনার জন্য অনেক কিছু অপেক্ষা করছে। সংসদ চলছে বলে এখন নখ দাঁতগুলো দেখতে পাচ্ছেন না।”

I urge The Home Minister that he is not only BJP’s Home Minister, he is the Home Minister of all the States in India. Sir, what you say in an election campaign 

স্বরাষ্ট্রমন্ত্রী যেই হোন, তাঁকে শ্রদ্ধা করি, করতেই হবে। প্রধানমন্ত্রীকেও করতেই হবে। এটা আমাদের পরম্পরা। উনি বাংলায় এসে বলেছেন বাংলায় নাকি দুর্গাপুজো করতে দেওয়া হয়না। সরস্বতী পুজো করতে দেওয়া হয় না। বাংলায় ২৭ হাজার দুর্গাপুজো হয়, বড় করে বিসর্জন হয়, বাংলায় অনেক কিছু হয়। গঙ্গাসাগর মেলাও হয়। 

Sir, you are asking me why. I also don’t want to do Hindu and Muslim; they are all Indian citizens. Now, let me tell you about the second Bill you all bringing for the international border. There also we from the Trinamool Congress are supporting the Government, because we believe Indian citizens must be given all the benefits and rights. In UP, support the 125 families who were forced to leave because of harassment; a BJP leader has only complained about this. So I ask this government, through you, to support them. Why do you want to leave them out just because they are Hindus or Muslims? 

Sir, the NRC affects 23 lakh Bengali Hindus. Bengali Hindus are committing suicide in the Assam detention camps; support them also. 

Sir, if people want to look at Kashmir through the prism of Kashmir and not through the prism of Constitution of India and try and heckle me in the middle of my speech, I won’t stop. 

Five Hindu Bengalis were shot in Dibrugarh; a delegation of Trinamool lawmakers went to see them. Sir, why is the government targeting Indian citizens through NRC, be them a large number of Hindus and Bengalis?

Sir, my last two points before I finish. Sir, this is called the Council of States, if we as representatives of different states, are going to be told every 90 seconds ‘why are you discussing your state’ then tell us; we will start discussing the Union of India. Ambedkar Ji said, it’s only in times of war do we look at this Constitution as unitary. Rest of the time, it is federal.

Sir, Amit Shah Ji spent two days in Jammu and Kashmir as the Home Minister of India. I have got the diary, as reported in the Media. On the first day whatever he did and the first two hours of the second day whatever he did. It was all development package; everything which the Home Minister of India needed to do. Eighty thousand crore is a good figure but Rs 80,000 crore or even Rs 180,000 crore, Sir, can’t heal hearts. That’s a different kind of healing which is needed.

Our Hon’ Home Minister on the first one and a half days played the role of a Home Minster but on that second day when those cheques were distributed, those were given to BJP workers who were killed. PDP workers were killed, NC workers were also killed. As I said, he is not the Home Minister, but the BJP President as well. But at times like this, Sir and no talks with any political parties <interruptions>

Sir, let me then end with a true story. When I was in Jammu and Kashmir, as part of the Parliamentary Committee, we went to buy some kurtis. There we met a tailor and his son was there. So, I was asking him and trying to understand. I said what is the problem (this was one year ago) and how can we solve it. He said, “Jab tak Jammu and Kashmir tanav main rehega, uska faida ek political party ko baki 28 rajya main milta rehega. 

Very interesting point he said, Sir.


Derek O’Brien demands that a statue of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay be installed in Parliament


সংসদের প্রতিটি অধিবেশন শেষ হয় জাতীয় সংগীত বন্দেমাতরম দিয়ে। গতকাল  ২৭শে জুন এই গানের লেখক শ্রী বঙ্কিম চন্দ্র চট্টোপাধ্যায়ের জন্মবার্ষিকী ছিল অথচ সংসদে তাঁকে শ্রদ্ধা জানাতে আমরা ভুলেই গেলাম।

এই বন্দেমাতরম গানটি ১৮৮২ সালে প্রকাশিত আনন্দমঠ উপন্যাসের অংশ যা স্বাধীনতা আন্দোলনকে তীব্র করতে এবং বৃটিশদের বিরুদ্ধে আন্দোলনকারীদের অনুপ্রাণিত করতে বড় ভূমিকা পালন করেছিল। 

বঙ্কিম চন্দ্রকে বাংলা উপন্যাসের জনক বলা হয়। দুর্গেশনন্দিনী, কপালকুণ্ডলা তার জনপ্রিয় উপন্যাস। কিন্তু খুব কম লোকই জানে যে তার লেখা Rajmohon’s wife প্রথম ভারতীয় ইংরেজি উপন্যাস। ইংরেজদের পক্ষ থেকে বহুবার হুমকি পাওয়ার পরেও উনি দেশের জন্য অনেক কাজ করে গেছেন এবং দেশবাসীকে জাগ্রত করার জন্যও  পরিশ্রম করেছেন।

আমি চাই, সংসদে সাহিত্য সম্রাট বঙ্কিমচন্দ্র চট্টোপাধ্যায়ের একটি মূর্তি (statue) তৈরি করা হোক এবং আজ থেকে আমরা প্রস্তুত হব এটা সুনিশ্চিত করার জন্য যে আগামী বছর আমরা সংসদে এই কবি, লেখক, সাংবাদিক, নবজাগরণের পথপ্রদর্শক ও জাতীয়তাবাদের স্রষ্টাকে তার প্রাপ্য সম্মান ও শ্রদ্ধা জানাতে পারি।


Every session of Parliament ends with our National hymn/song Vande Mataram. Yet, we failed to pay tribute to the writer of the song, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, on his birth anniversary, 27th june in Parliament. 

Vande Mataram, which was a part of his novel Anandamath published in 1882, inspired thousands of freedom fighters to rise against the imperialist British Government. It put to paper the love for our motherland which was rising in the hearts of all Indians who wanted to throw off the British yoke and reclaim India as our own. 

When the British tried to divide our nation, this song became the rallying cry sung from a thousand lips. Bankim Chandra is considered as the father of the Bengali novel, with novels like Durgeshnandini and Kapalkundala gaining immense popularity. But few know that his work Rajmohan’s Wife is regarded as the first published novel by an Indian written in English. 

It is no wonder that Rabindranath Tagore said of him, “With one hand he ignited the light of literary enlightenment; and with the other he blew away the smoke and ash of ignorance and ill conceived notions” and Sri Aurobindo said, “Bankim created a language, a literature and a nation”. 

Therefore, I demand that a statue of Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay be installed in Parliament and we prepare from today to ensure that we pay tribute to this writer, poet, journalist, pioneer, and nationalist with the respect he deserves next year.


Derek O’Brien asks a Question on the new draft National Education Policy


Sir, the question is on RTE, so it is part of the issues discussed or put out in the public domain of the new draft National Education Policy. My question is very specific.

The Prime Minister and the Rashtrapati ji spoke in great detail about federalism, and Education is number 25 on the Concurrent List. I want to first welcome the new Education Minister. He said this is the first time he’s here. Sir, the question is also not complicated; the answer is a simple yes or no.

The draft National Education Policy was submitted and is in the public domain. There are only three days left for people to give their inquiries, so I am sure you will consider extending that.

While putting together this draft National Education Policy, it seems that zero meetings were held with the 29 State Governments – none were consulted. This is what I was told not only by the media but also by the chairperson of the drafting committee, Dr Kasturirangan. 

My question is, were there any meetings held or not with the State Governments before this National Education Policy was made?


অমিত শাহ, ক্ষমা চান, নয়তো আইনি প্রক্রিয়া শুরু করা হবেঃ তৃণমূল কংগ্রেস

আজ কলকাতায় বিজেপির সভাপতি অমিত শাহ এক জনসভা করেন। সেই সভায় অমিত শাহ রাজ্য সরকারের ওপর ভিত্তিহীন অভিযোগ আনেন। তার প্রতিবাদে তৃণমূল কংগ্রেসের পক্ষ থেকে সাংবাদিকদের মুখোমুখি হন, তৃণমূল কংগ্রেসের সর্বভারতীয় মুখপাত্র ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন।

তিনি বলেন, “অমিত শাহ আজকে বাংলাকে অপমান করেছেন, বাংলাকে অসম্মান করেছেন। বাংলার সভ্যতা, বাংলার শুদ্ধ সূচী, সুস্থ রুচি উনি বোঝেন না। এসব ওনাকে কি বোঝাব? বাংলার যে একটা সংস্কৃতি আছে, উনি সেটাকে অপমান করেছেন। তিনি ডাহা মিথ্যে দুর্নীতির কথা বলেছেন। উনি যদি ৭২ ঘণ্টার মধ্যে ক্ষমা না চান, অবশ্যই আমরা আইনি ব্যবস্থা নেব। সভ্যতার একটা সীমা থাকে, সম্মানের একটা সীমা থাকে। সেই সীমা অমিত শাহ আজ অতিক্রম করেছেন। অমিত শাহ, আপনি আগে নিজের ইতিহাস দেখুন, হলফনামা দেখুন।”

ডেরেক ও’ব্রায়েন অমিত শাহের বিষয়ে আরও বলেন, “উনি দুর্নীতির ডাকাত, দাঙ্গার ডাকাত। এইসব ধরনের রাজনীতি আগে যেখানেই করে থাকুন না কেন, এই রাজনীতি বাংলায় চলবে না। একদিনের জন্য আসবেন, বাংলাকে অপমান করে পালিয়ে যাবেন। আমাদের কাছে যথেষ্ট প্রমাণ আছে। সোজা ভাবে তৃণমূলের পক্ষ থেকে বলা হচ্ছে, হয় ক্ষমা চান, আর যদি না চান, আমরা আইনি ব্যবস্থা নেব। ”

সাংবাদিকদের প্রশ্নের উত্তরে তিনি বলেন, “এটি একটি ফ্লপ শো ছিল। মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ের নামে বাংলায় কোনও দুর্নীতির অভিযোগ আনলে, বাংলার মানুষ তা মেনে নেবে না। মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ের বিশ্বাসযোগ্যতা, মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ের প্রতি মানুষের আস্থা-ভরসা প্রশ্নাতীত। সেই মমতা বন্দ্যোপাধ্যায়ের ওপর দুর্নীতির কাদা ছোঁড়ার চেষ্টা করা হয়েছে।”

রাষ্ট্রীয় নাগরিক পঞ্জীর (National Register of Citizens or, NRC) বিষয়ে সাংবাদিকদের প্রশ্নের উত্তরে তিনি বলেন, “এটা শুধু বাংলার বিষয় নয়, এটা পুরো দেশের নাগরিকদের নিরাপত্তার বিষয়। আমাদের রাষ্ট্রীয় নাগরিক পঞ্জীর বিষয়ে বক্তব্য পরিষ্কার, এটা বাংলার একার ব্যাপার না, এটা রাজস্থান, পাঞ্জাব, বিহার, আসামেরও বিষয়। গোর্খা, গরীব, প্রান্তিক মানুষ, বীর সেনা, জনপ্রতিনিধিদের, এমনকি প্রাক্তন রাষ্ট্রপতির পরিবারের মানুষদেরও ঐ তালিকা থেকে বাদ দেওয়া হয়েছে। ভারতীয় নাগরিক বাঁচাও, এটাই আমাদের স্লোগান। এটা কোনও সস্তার দাঙ্গা লাগানোর স্লোগান না। কোনও দাঙ্গার রাজনীতি বাংলায় চলবে না। আমরা আমাদের সীমার মধ্যে থেকে, শান্ত-নম্র ভাবে বলেছি, আমাদের বাংলার পারম্পরিক সংস্কৃতি আমরা ধর্ম-বর্ণ নির্বিশেষে মেনে চলি। আজ অমিত শাহ তাঁর সীমা ছাড়িয়েছেন।”

Derek O’Brien speaks on The National Trust for the Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities (Amendment) Bill, 2018


Sir, all the Opposition members spoke. everyone has expressed themselves. There is an issue here on the quality of person who will be appointed. I don’t think anyone in the Opposition is suggesting that the post be left vacant. Nobody is suggesting that. The question is, do we have a professional who understands the issue. That’s all.

If the minister has changed the rules of the Bill, he must be congratulated for it. But, he has changed the rules, not the Act. What has caused a concern, is that we are doing legislation not for one person.

In the spirit of what you suggested, Sir, may I with your permission, Sir, through you, suggest to the House, that this is an issue which can be resolved. There are just two issues. We all want a qualified professional to be there. After that, we can resolve this issue by discussion.

Derek O’Brien speaks during a Calling Attention Motion on misuse of social media and fake news


Sir, regarding this Calling Attention Motion, I have four specific questions to the minister and I hope he will answer that. Bur before that I have 3 sentences.

It is the party which came to power in 2014 which created the culture of digital mobs.

It is the party which came to power in 2014 which is trying to condition minds.

It is the party which came to power on 2014 which has made fake news into its master hobby.

I have four specific questions and all I ask for are the answers at the end of this debate. What did the minister not tell you in his so-called comprehensive review? He didn’t tell you which is the largest Facebook platform which was brought down by Facebook. And that page was called ‘Postcard News’. Look at the content of ‘Postcard News’. It is 100% right wing/RSS/BJP content.

(When did RSS become unparliamentary, Sir? I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. In my book it means Rumour Spreading Society.)

My first question: If Postcard News was brought down, why are BJP MLAs, MPs and ministers now demanding from Facebook that it should be brought back. Why?

My second question: One of India’s most vile, bilious, hatred-spreading Twitter handles is @IPPatel. Why was he called to the BJP President’s social media network meet last week?

My third question: Minister, if these big WhatsApp groups are creating all these problems – and you are right they are creating all these problems – please get WhatsApp to disclose to you at least 1,000 such groups and it will be very useful to you to find out who they are.

My fourth question: It is on Facebook. Facebook’s largest advertiser in India today, with 19 sponsored ads in the last six months, is ‘Nation with Namo’. My question is, who is paying for this?

Sir, I’m only concluding with one sentence. Sir, if I’m not making a relevant point I can sit down, if you want me to, but the four questions I’ve asked, I want the answers to those. Because, I believe and the Trinamool Congress believes, that digital India is really divisive India.

Thank you.

Pratima Mondal speaks on The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018


Sir, I rise to speak on The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill 2018.

Trafficking is not only a global concern but is also affecting a number of South Asian nations. It is commendable that India is taking pioneering action in formulating a comprehensive Bill. The new Bill proposes to prevent one of the most pervasive crimes affecting the most vulnerable persons. It ends at prevention, rescue and rehabilitation of the vulnerable target groups including women and children.

This Bill, however, does not propose much new things from what already exists. It however creates a new category of aggravated forms of trafficking, carrying a minimum punishment of 10 years, which may extend to life imprisonment. Some of the aggravated forms of trafficking included in the Bill are for the purposes of forced labour, begging, marriage and childbearing, which have already been included under the existing law. Similarly so-called ‘new offences’ such as administering hormones or committing trafficking by administering alcohol or drugs have already been included in the existing law.

The new Anti-Trafficking Bill appears to be flawed as there are provisions that are both problematic and make no sense. For instance, gradation of offences appears to be illogical. The Anti-Trafficking Bill categorises offences for certain purpose as aggravated forms of trafficking which carry a punishment of 10 years or life imprisonment. Logically, offences that are graded higher must be more serious or culpable than the Act that constituted trafficking under section 377 of the IPC, which attributes punishment from seven to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine. That is not the fact. Trafficking for the purpose of begging is considered aggravated whereas trafficking for sexual exploitation is simple trafficking.

Further, slavery and practices similar to slavery and servitude which form the most shocking forms of oppression and bondage as per domestic and international laws are also categorised as simple trafficking. Some of the provisions are also vague and impractical. The Bill criminalises a host of activities which lack culpabilities and criminal intent. As an example, this Bill authorises closure of premises which can be used as places for trafficking; therefore applied in the context of labour trafficking, this law would allow factories and farms to be closed down on complaints simply by police or any person.

The penal provision against promoting or facilitating the trafficking of persons are also vague. The aspects related to IT companies, travel goods and employment sites need more clarity. The provision for confiscation of properties has been addressed in a rather wide sense, therefore properties may be attached not only when they are used for an offence but also if they are likely to be used for commission of offence under the Act.

There is no guidance as to when and under what circumstances likelihood for the latter will arise, so as to warrant attachment of the properties. The Bill falls back on the outdated methods of rescuing and detaining victims in the name of rehabilitation.

Institutionalisation of victims in homes, apparently for protection and rehabilitation, is contradictory to their fundamental rights. The victims of trafficking, especially women who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation, need to be rehabilitated in homes or shelters which have the right environment for rehabilitation and integration into society rather than a hostile and unsafe environment resulting in trauma instead

Instead of streamlining enforcement, the anti-trafficking Bill encourages institutionalising by bureaucracy. Creating 10 different agencies including anti-trafficking officers, units, committees and the bureau at the district, State and national levels to counter the problem will result in chaos and policy indecision as well as passing the buck on questions of accountability.

Besides, none of the proposed authorities have any representation from the affected communities, whose participation and perspective are vital for addressing trafficking successfully. In fact, involvement of sex workers in the oversight committee and the anti-trafficking board was strongly recommended by the Supreme Court-appointed panel, in light of their effective role and contribution. This has been overlooked.

The problem of trafficking cannot be disassociated from poverty, livelihood, displacement and security. People have and will always move for work, whether out of distress or for better opportunities. Prisons cannot confine or capture the dreams and aspirations of people, specially the poor and the marginalised. Adopting an approach of imprisonment in jail to what is largely a socio-economic phenomenon is misplaced and unwise.

Before I conclude my speech I would like to refer to one incident which happened in an NGO-run home in the district of Jalpaiguri in Bengal. Child trafficking cases happened there and local and national level women leaders belonging to the ruling party were involved. If this is the present scenario then the slogan, ‘Beti Bachao’ is not only vague but is also just a showpiece.

Thank you, Sir