“Be watchful! This virus is even more dangerous. The only vaccine is awareness.” 53-year-old Raju Nepali ends his impromptu speech to a group of men with a flourish before proceeding to *Sunaina Oraon’s house in the labour lines of a tea estate in the Dooars region of India’s West Bengal state.
A notebook in hand, he settles on the ground by the fireside in the yard outside, listening to her narrate the excesses of her abusive step-father. “If it goes on like this, I am afraid we will have to approach the police,” he advises the 17-year-old. “I will check again in a few days.”
A a patient listener and flamboyant orator, Nepali is an anti-human trafficking activist, and a local hero of sorts, in the Dooars region. In the past 13 years or so, he has been able to bring home over a hundred trafficked children, mostly tribal girls, from various parts of India. Sunaina is one of them.