These children are barely aged 10-12 years. They are not of this nation, though. They are children of illegal migrants – the result of a lax, corrupt system that allowed them to cross the border in exchange for some money.
You may run into them in the busy streets of Guwahati. They roam the streets, and alleys with sacks loaded on their shoulders. Their eyes are constantly searching.
For something. For recyclable waste – beer bottles, cans, plastic toys, iron. Some of them have a long string wound around their fingers. The other end of the string has a magnet tied to it.
As they walk, they drag the magnet along the ground, to collect bits and pieces of iron, steel, and other magnetic materials.
You may see them rummaging through garbage bins on the street for recyclable waste. You may also see them holding a piece of cloth to their nose, as they walk.
That piece of cloth has “dendrite” smeared on it. It is an adhesive and you can buy it relatively cheap. These children inhale this adhesive as it gives them a sort of high.
But, nobody cares. The nexus that takes ‘care’ of them is only interested in the amount of waste they collect everyday. They want productivity.
When these children’s parents had crossed the Indo-Bangladesh border illegally, it was in search of a better livelihood.
The Indian Rupee is stronger than the Bangladeshi Taka.
Most of them found work as construction labourers, or carpenters. They had an edge over the indigenous workers because they were ready to work for lower wages.
The State Government too didn’t mind, as long as the vote bank was growing.
The Opposition political parties are very vocal in their clamour for eviction of illegal immigrants.
The indigenous people fear that they might become a ethnic and linguistic minority in their own state, if this rampant immigration persists.
Yes, they are right, and it won’t be very long before that happens.
This is because all that the State is concerned with is securing the vote bank for the next elections. They don’t care that the societal fabric is being destroyed by these foreigners.
Such a nexus exists very near my home. It is run by a lady; someone very influential. I regularly run into these children in the streets. They live in slums nearby.
I often see them returning to their homes very late at night with huge sacks of waste. I feel very sorry for these children.
It was not their choice to illegally cross over into a neighbouring country.
They are just the victims of a system. The future seems bleak. Drug-addiction, disease, crime – the oft repeated pattern, observed all over the world.
After all said and done, they are children, and you may reproach me for feeling sorry for illegal migrants.
But, the fact is that they are just children caught in the ceasefire – lost children.