Child trafficking: Delhi cops not cooperating in raids

1888877_10152716836809123_6359657859865378037_oPUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh police team, which is in New Delhi to crackdown on trafficking racket, has accused Delhi police of not cooperating with further investigation to find the main accused involved in trafficking of children.

State police, in a series of raids, had busted a racket on Wednesday arresting four accused and rescued ten children including girls in Delhi. According to police officials, Delhi police barred Chhattisgarh police team when it wanted to raid the house of Guddu- the kingpin of trafficking, who is at large.

“Guddu’s house is located in Delhi’s Subhash Nagar police jurisdiction. But when the SHO Ram Mehar was contacted for cooperation in raiding the house, he denied saying that police from other state couldn’t do such investigation and in case they violated rules, he would take action against them,” an official on condition of anonymity said.

The official added that the team was asked to take permission from sub-divisional magistrate for conducting raids. In its investigation, TOI found that police teams from Jharkhand, West Bengal and Assam were trying to reach Subhash Nagar in search of Guddu who was the main accused for trafficking of over 10,000 children. But Subhash Nagar police weren’t co-operating.

According to Ravi Kant, a supreme court lawyer, “Any investigating officer asking support from inter state police at their jurisdiction cannot be denied assistance. Any resistance should be strictly taken into consideration by ministry of home affairs.”

Human trafficking victims in India need greater legal support


LONDON, Nov 19 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Trafficking victims in India need more legal support to pursue cases against their perpetrators, while the country’s police must understand that bonded and forced labour are also crimes, according to a report published on Wednesday.

The report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and Freedom Fund said although illegal, trafficking is widespread across India while perpetrators go unpunished and many victims are unable to obtain justice and compensation.

India is home to more than 14 million victims of human trafficking, according to the 2014 Global Slavery Index, which found India had the greatest number of slaves of 167 countries.

Nick Grono, CEO of Freedom Fund, the world’s first private donor fund dedicated to ending modern slavery, said human trafficking was a massively profitable business that needed to be “dealt with as a criminal enterprise”.

Modern slavery is worth more than $150 billion a year in profits for human traffickers worldwide, according to the International Labour Organization.

“It means using the law effectively to challenge the economic model that supports slavery,” Grono told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the TrustWomen conference.

“If you can find effective approaches which make a difference in India, then you can also make a huge impact on the overall scale of the problem globally.”

The report found that while hundreds of NGOs across India work on combating trafficking, only a few are able to pursue legal cases through to trial on behalf of victims.

This was due to funding restrictions, as money tends to be directed to non-legal victim assistance instead of legal work, longevity of cases, which can last for years, and the challenges of operating in an overstretched criminal justice system.


New anti-trafficking laws in India, ratified in May 2011, expanded the definition of trafficking and increased penalties, but confusion as to their interpretation and scope persists, the report said.

Several NGOs have said that while the new laws are being used for “traditional” trafficking offences, it is difficult to get police to register bonded labour cases or cases that do not involve movement of the victim.

“Historically, the Indian authorities have thought of trafficking only as sex trafficking, so it’s important to broaden the definition to include forced labour, bonded labour, and children being forced to work in mines,” Grono said.

The report also said that victims who press charges against perpetrators face harassment, violence and social stigma from their communities.

Citing the example of a 15-year-old Indian girl who was kidnapped, raped, and sold to a brothel, before escaping and filing a complaint with the help of an NGO, Grono said victims and officials “must realise the law is a powerful tool”.

“If you enforce and reinforce the law, and have cases that succeed and set precedents, then you can change the mindset across the country,” Grono said.

Among its recommendations, the report called for direct funding for NGOs to engage lawyers and pay for witness protection, expanded pro bono networks, and increased collaboration between anti-trafficking organisations.

(Reporting By Kieran Guilbert, editing by Alisa Tang.)

Chhattisgarh’s trafficking kingpins held in Delhi, 10 kids rescued


RAIPUR: Six human trafficking kingpins, including a woman involved in selling hundreds of children from Chhattisgarh’s Jashpur district were arrested during series of raids conducted at Delhi’s Shakurpur and Motinagar areas.

Ten children, including four boys were rescued.

The children hailing from Pathalgaon region of Jashpur district were found huddled in small, dingy, rooms of placement agencies and were confined for a month. The racket was busted in a joint operation by Chhattisgarh and Delhi Police in collaboration with NGO, Shakti Vahini, late on Tuesday.

Action comes in wake of recent Supreme Court order to Chhattisgarh to trace missing children within a month. Talking to TOI, Mallika Bannerjee, police in charge, who conducted raids, said, “Four traffickers were nabbed from Nirmala Placement Agencies at Motinagar and Guddu Placement Agencies at Shakurpur in north-west Delhi. Two sub-agents were arrested from Jashpur and produced in court for transit remand to Chhattisgarh.” The accused confessed to involvement in trafficking since 2008 and smuggled out children from Jashpur to households in Delhi, NCR, Ajmer, Dehradun, Punjab, Haryana, Mumbai and Jammu. “Each child was sold for Rs 25,000 of which Rs 5,000 was paid to touts,” they said.

Mallika said children rescued are in the age-group of 13-15. Two of them were sold to households in Punjab and Jammu. “They were kept locked in a room. There were other children too from different parts of the country,” she said.

During investigation, TOI found children were pushed into slavery, forced to work as nannies, beg on streets and work in garages and fields. Some were also forced into marriage and prostitution.

Children rescued from Delhi hellholes said they were lured with job offers at a cloth mill in Bilaspur with a salary of Rs 10,000 per month. “They were taken to Raigarh railway station and brought to Delhi. Their parents did not have any clue about their whereabouts. The kids were ill-treated by placement agents and not provided medical facility and served food once a day,” said police.

Now, rescued children are with child welfare committee and would be sent home after verification. This is the first time, traffickers based in Delhi were nabbed. Earlier, only sub-agents have been arrested, said police.

Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini told TOI, “Traffickers pick up children, especially minor girls from parts of Chhattisgarh, Assam, Jharkhand, Bengal and Odisha and route them to trafficking hubs in Delhi via Raigarh, Ranchi or Jharsuguda.”

Those arrested are Nirmala Lakra of Jharkhand, Arun Vajro of Assam, Shravan Kurre of Sarguja, Chhattisgarh and Amrat Tigga of Raigarh.

After Supreme Court order, Chhattisgarh cops form special teams to trace missing children



RAIPUR: With Supreme Court directing Chhattisgarh government to trace missing children within a month, state police rushed to form special teams to find trafficked children from different parts of country.

On November 13, the apex court had summoned Madhya Pradesh chief secretary for failing in finding missing kids and ordered Bihar and Chhattisgarh government to trace children who went missing between January 2011 and May 2014.

According to police, there are nearly 1,500 children including girls who went missing during this tenure.

TOI has consistently reported on huge number of children going missing everyday from state capital and other parts of Chhattisgarh for domestic slavery, flesh trade, begging, forced marriages and slavery. Appalling variations were also found in data produced under Right to Information Act with number of missing children from various departments including police headquarters, district crime records bureau and CID.

In its several investigations, TOI found that Chhattisgarh lacks missing children squad or active child tracking system which is supposed to act swiftly once a child goes missing.

Talking to TOI, officer on special duty, CID (child cell) PN Tiwari said special teams were being formed at police station level and SPs in all districts have been pressed into action to do 100% verification and identification of missing children.

“Finding out if the children were kidnapped, trafficked, pushed into begging or prostitution is the primary job in order to trace them. SPs and their special teams are trying to figure out their location by interrogating their parents,” Tiwari said.

Official sources said that amid all the uproar after Supreme Court’s order and Global Slavery Index report, police teams from Farsabahar in Jashpur were sent to New Delhi to trace 10 children who were allegedly trafficked for domestic slavery by placement agencies.

Police may catch a few traffickers after raiding placement agencies in Delhi.

“Across India’s population of over 1.2 billion people, all forms of modern slavery, including inter-generational bonded labour, trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced marriage, exist. Evidence suggests that members of lower strata mainly women and children being recruited with promises of non-existent jobs and later sold for sexual exploitation, or forced into sham marriages. Recent reports suggest that one child goes missing every eight minutes; it is feared that some are sold into forced begging, domestic work, and commercial sexual exploitation,” the Global Slavery Index report said.

When contacted, Rishikant of Delhi based NGO Shakti Vahini which has been working with Chhattisgarh police for rescuing children, said, “It should come forth as a joint effort from locals and citizens who need to update police with any minor information they have which would help in finding untraced children.”

Supreme Court had passed a slew of directions on a PIL filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan alleging that over 1.7 lakh children have gone missing in the country between January 2008-2010, many of whom were kidnapped for trafficking in flesh trade and child labour.

India is now the world’s slave capital: Global Slavery Index 2014


LONDON: With over 14.2 million in India being involved in forced labour and being victims of trafficking – for sexual exploitation and forced marriage, the country is home to the largest number of people trapped in modern slavery. Globally, 35.8 million people are enslaved across the world. Of them, 23.5 million people are in Asia, two-thirds of global total in 2014 (65.8%).

The Global Slavery Index 2014 announced on Monday that India and Pakistan alone account for over 45% of total global enslaved population and have highest prevalence of modern slavery in Asia.

The Index said, “Particularly in countries such as India and Pakistan, nationals – often including entire families – are enslaved through bonded labour in construction, agriculture, brick making, garment factories and manufacturing.”

The report this year found 23% more people across the world are involved in modern slavery than previous estimated.

Modern slavery exists in all 167 countries with five countries accounting for 61% of the world’s population living in modern slavery.

The 2014 Global Slavery Index (GSI) has been published by the Walk Free Foundation, a global human rights organization with a mission to end modern slavery in a generation.

The report looks at prevalence (the percentage of a country’s population that is enslaved) as well as the total number of people living in modern slavery in each country.

It estimates that over 23.5 million people in Asia are living in modern slavery. This is equivalent to almost two-thirds of the global total number of people enslaved. Of these, over 14.2 million are in India and over 2.05 million are in Pakistan, which demonstrate the highest prevalence of modern slavery in Asia (1.141% and 1.13% of their populations respectively).

In South Asia, these countries are followed in prevalence by Nepal (0.823% of the population, 228,700 people), Bangladesh (0.435%, 680,900), Afghanistan (0.435, 132,800) and Sri Lanka (0.359%, 73,600).

“Some countries with the biggest challenges are also taking important steps to tackle the problem. India for example has strengthened its criminal justice framework through legislative amendments and has established 215 Anti- Human Trafficking Police Units. Much more needs to be done,” said the global report.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Andrew Forrest, chairman of Walk Free Foundation, said: “There is an assumption that slavery is an issue from a bygone era. Or that it only exists in countries ravaged by war and poverty. These findings show that modern slavery exists in every country. We are all responsible for the most appalling situations where modern slavery exists and the desperate misery it brings upon our fellow human beings. The first step in eradicating slavery is to measure it. And with that critical information, we must all come together – governments, businesses and civil society – to finally bring an end to the most severe form of exploitation.”

Mauritania has the highest proportion (prevalence) of its population in modern slavery, at 4%, followed by Uzbekistan (3.97%), Haiti (2.3%), Qatar (1.36%) and India (1.14%).

Iceland and Luxembourg have the lowest number of people enslaved in both prevalence and in absolute numbers, estimated at less than 100 each, closely followed by Ireland with under 300.

Modern slavery involves one person possessing or controlling another person in such as a way as to significantly deprive that person of their individual liberty, with the intention of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer or disposal.

Modern slavery contributes to the production of at least 122 goods from 58 countries worldwide. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates the illicit profits of forced labour to be $150 billion a year.

The report says, “India’s modern slavery challenges are immense. Across India’s population of over 1.2 billion people, all forms of modern slavery, including inter-generational bonded labour, trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced marriage, exist. Evidence suggests that members of lower castes and tribes, religious minorities and migrant workers are disproportionately affected by modern slavery. Modern slavery occurs in brick kilns, carpet weaving, embroidery and other textile manufacturing, forced prostitution, agriculture, domestic servitude, mining, and organised begging rings. labour is particularly prevalent throughout India with families enslaved for generations.”

“There are reports of women and children from India being recruited with promises of non-existent jobs and later sold for sexual exploitation, or forced into sham marriages. In some religious groups, pre-pubescent girls are sold for sexual servitude in temples. Recent reports suggest that one child goes missing every eight minutes; it is feared that some are sold into forced begging, domestic work, and commercial sexual exploitation.”

According to the report, on paper, criminal justice reforms specific to human trafficking are the strongest component of India’s response to modern slavery. In 2013, the government amended the Indian Penal code to include specific anti-trafficking provisions. In 2014, the government expanded the number of police anti-human trafficking units across the country to 215 units, aiming to establish a unit in 650 districts.

The judiciary and over 20,000 law enforcement have received training on victim identification, the new legal framework, and victim-centered investigations.

The report says: “Dalits have the least social protections and are highly vulnerable to severe forms of exploitation and modern slavery. Approximately 90 percent of India’s labourers are in the informal economy.”

Kept as sex slave in Gujarat, Jabalpur woman wriggles out of hellhole


BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh police arrested a couple who sold a woman in Gujarat where she was kept as a sex slave. Accused Ritesh Barman and wife Mona, are residents of Gorakhpur area in Jabalpur district. They confessed to having sold the 35-year-old woman to one ‘Popet Bhai’ in Gujarat for Rs 1.25 lakh.

Popet sold her to a Patel family in Junagarh for Rs 1.80 lakh. She was kept hostage and repeatedly raped, besides being forced to work as bonded labour. She wriggled out of their clutches and reached Jabalpur on October 23.

On October 29, when two people came to Jabalpur and tried to kidnap her, she went to the police and narrated her ordeal. The rape survivor alleged she was raped by one Bhawan Patel, Vallabh Patel and other members of the family.

Police said, she was a mother of two and was working as a domestic help in Jabalpur. The Barman couple took her to Gujarat, promising better pay. During interrogation, police found more girls had been trafficked from the state and sold in Gurajat by Popet Bhai. Teams have been dispatched to Gujarat to arrest him. A case has been lodged against five people, including Popet.

Trafficking kingpin confesses to crime



Ranchi: Pannalal Mahato, the trafficking kingpin who was arrested in Delhi last month, has admitted to working with an association that provided trafficked girls to around 250 placement agencies in Delhi.

Mahato and his wife Sunita Devi were arrested on October 19 after a weeklong search by a joint team of Jharkhand and Delhi police.

Aradhna Singh, head of Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU), Khunti, who headed the Jharkhand Police team said, “There are four FIRs against Pannalal in Khunti for trafficking and one in Ranchi for extortion while there is an FIR in his wife’s name in Khunti for trafficking.”

Mahato was kept on remand for four days before being sent to Khunti jail on Friday. During interrogation, Mahato disclosed crucial information about the functioning of traffickers in Delhi and Jharkhand to the Khunti police.

Talking to TOI, Khunti SP Sudarshan Mandal said, “Pannalal owned four placement agencies but his main work was to coordinate with other placement agencies and provide them trafficked girls.”

“He started as a local broker a few years ago and used to supply girls from Jharkhand to Delhi but soon he opened his own placement agencies in Delhi. After a while, he along with some other leading traffickers started an association with the name Bhagwan Birsa Tribal Welfare Agency. Through this association, he started supplying trafficked girls to around 250 placement agencies of Delhi, out of which his major clients were 80 agencies in Sukurpur and 45 in Punjabi Bagh area of Delhi,” Mandal added.

Mahato was the coordinator of the association while Baba Bamdev, another trafficker who was arrested from Khunti in August this year, was the vice-president. Mandal said, “The main work of Mahato was to coordinate with local traffickers of various states including Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal and Odisha and get local girls to Delhi after which they were sent to placement agencies as per the demand. Though he has said that the girls were sent only for domestic work, the possibilities of flesh trade can’t be ruled out.”

Mahato also said he did not get money on the basis of number of girls he provided but on the commission depending on the urgency to deliver the work.

“He said that the payment varied from Rs10,000 to Rs.60,000 depending on the placement agencies he was dealing with, the urgency and other factors. Basically it was about bargaining,” Mandal said.

Mahato also owns property worth crores of rupees in Delhi, Khunti and Ranchi has a five storey apartment constructed in an area of 500 sq.ft. in Sukurpur, Delhi. In Ranchi, he has 80 decimal land in Argora where an apartment is being constructed and also 1237 sq.ft. plot in Argora.

He also owns more than five acres land in Hutar village of Ranchi. In Khunti, he has around 2.5 acre land in Fudi and 1.2 acre land in Khunti Tola.

Mandal said, “Apart from these properties, Pannalal has also revealed possessing many bank accounts and few four wheelers. The police will first investigate the details provided by him and then the details would be given to concerned authorities for further action.”