About 1,714 cases of human trafficking were registered by the government's anti-human trafficking units in 2020 with sexual exploitation for prostitution, forced labour and domestic servitude being the top reasons behind it, according to the NCRB data.
The data also showed that the case conviction rate of human trafficking was 10.6 per cent.
Among states, Maharashtra and Telangana recorded the highest number of such cases at 184 each, followed by Andhra Pradesh at 171, Kerala at 166, Jharkhand at 140 and Rajasthan at 128.
The conviction for cases of human trafficking was recorded at 0 in seven states, while the highest conviction rate of such cases was reported from Tamil Nadu at 66 per cent followed by Delhi at 40 per cent.
The NCRB, in its report, said it started collecting data on human trafficking cases from these Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTU) across the country since
As per data provided by states/UTs, 1,714 cases of human trafficking have been registered by AHTUs during 2020.
According to the report, 2,278 human trafficking cases were registered in 2018 and 2,260 in 2019, respectively
The report further said that 4,709 victims, including 2,222 below 18 years, were trafficked across the country in 2020.
The maximum trafficking cases were registered for sexual exploitation for prostitution at 1,466 followed by forced labour at 1,452 and domestic servitude at 846.
The data on cases recorded of human trafficking have been provided by anti-human trafficking units through their State Crime Records Bureau and this data represents only those cases which have been registered by respective AHTUs.
As per the data provided by States/UTs, so far, 696 AHTUs are functional and 20 states/ UTs have achieved their target of setting up AHTUs in all districts.
Roop Sen, founding member of Sanjog, one of the NGOs which is a part of the Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking, a national platform by and for the survivors of human trafficking, said the country went into lockdown from March 23 so for majority part of the year all transportation systems, including all major rails and buses, were stopped and there was very strong monitoring of inter-state trave.
He said a question can be asked about how the number of trafficking cases is so large.
"...even sex workers talked about completely dwindling businesses, factories, brick kilns were non-functional so by that logic there would have been no demand of trafficked labour in that period," he said.
Jyoti Mathur, executive director, Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation, said the number of children children rescued since the beginning of the lockdown by their sister organisation, the Bachpan Bachao Andolan ,is substantially higher than the number of children rescued during the same period in 2019.
"There is, thus, evidence to show that trafficking of children has increased since the beginning of the lockdown. The increase is due to the loss of livelihood of a large number of families on account of the pandemic," she said.
"We sincerely hope that the anti-trafficking bill is passed in the forthcoming session of Parliament. If the bill becomes a legislation, it will give teeth to law enforcement agencies and they will be able to prevent, detect and prosecute cases of trafficking more effectively and efficiently," said Mathur.
According to the NCRB data, the conviction rate in human trafficking cases in 2020 was 10.6 per cent.
Elaborating on the possible reason behind it, Kaushik Gupta, Advocate, Calcutta High Court, said human trafficking is an organised and an inter-state crime, and local police does not have the resources or means to travel to another state and do the investigation.
"Human trafficking is a case of circumstantial evidence and law says that such a case cannot be proved until the entire chain of circumstances is complete. If in the entire chain, one point is missing then the person cannot be convicted," he said.