Tips to tackle trafficking

SHAKTI VAHINI SILIGURI

PUBLISHED IN THE TELEGRAPH

Aug. 26: A Delhi-based NGO is organising programmes across schools in north Bengal in collaboration with district administrations to sensitise adolescents to human trafficking which is rampant in the region, especially in the tea garden belt. Shakti Vahini has already covered 300 government schools in the districts of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Malda in the first-phase of the programme that was started around one-and-a-half years ago.

“The programme will be implemented in four phases in which we intend to cover all schools in north Bengal. We felt the need to start the outreach programme as human trafficking is rampant in the region. The region is vulnerable to human trafficking because it comprises tea gardens whose workers are poor. North Bengal shares border with Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal, another reason for increased cases of human trafficking,” said Rishi Kant, the executive director of Shakti Vahini.

He said the sensitisation programme was being held in schools as adolescents were the victims of trafficking. Today, the NGO conducted an interactive session as part of the sensitisation programme for 600 students from Class VI to Class XII at Atharokhai Uchha Balika Vidyalaya at Shivmandir in Matigara near here.

“We are conducting one session at a school on a daily basis. At the programmes, the representatives of the NGO speak to the students about the dangers of human trafficking. They are told to be alert to suspicious persons who promise high salaries in lieu of work in cites across the country. The students are also provided with helpline numbers of police and NGO officials to contact them in case they come across human trafficking racketeers in their locality. They are also provided with leaflets with the instructions and helpline numbers,” said Kant.

He said the programme was being implemented in association with respective district administrations. According to Kant, it is imperative that teachers and students keep track of children who are absent from classes for long. He said half of the 800 people rescued by Shakti Vahini from the clutches of human traffickers in various states of north India belong to Bengal.

“Victims of human trafficking from Bengal are taken to destination like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab. Children trafficked from Bengal are employed as domestic helps in the cities by illegal placement agencies. We have come across cases in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh where minor girls trafficked from north Bengal are forced to marry men double their age because of the skewed sex ratio in those states,” said the NGO

J’khand teen raped in Delhi went missing from school a month ago

HT 27 AUGUST 2014

BY SAURAV ROY IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

Parents of the 14-year-old girl from a Jharkhand village who was trafficked, raped in Delhi and dumped in Gurgaon said she went to school about a month ago and did not return.

Her parents said they did not approach the police at that time, fearing the wrath of a few local criminals who were into human trafficking.

The girl was a class 7 student in a small government-aided school in her nondescript Gumla village, said her father, a farmer. The Gumla admitted the teenager went missing from school.

“Our investigation suggests she went missing from school. Our team will leave for Delhi to bring her back,” said Gumla superintendent of police, Bheemsen T.

The officer in-charge of the police station concerned that the police questioned the school authorities.

The girl who was rescued from the MG Road metro station on Sunday late night by Gurgaon police and NGO Shakti Vahini in a joint operation, disclosed that she was placed at a household in Delhi where she first time met Sanju, an auto driver who stayed in the neighbourhood.

She said that on Saturday Sanju lured her out of the house, promising a good time outside. Sanju took her to a secluded place, raped her and later dumped her near a metro station, she said.

The girl told the Gurgaon CWC that she was taken to Delhi by a woman, possibly a trafficking agent, who provides jobs to minors in the village. She, however, could not name the woman.

The teenager could not narrate how she went missing from school and eventually landed in Delhi. She said she was yet to be paid by her employers.

While medical report confirms rape, the Gurgaon police said she had had sexual intercourse several times in the past. This raised speculation of her being sexually exploited by her employers and placement agents.

Traffickers lure Jharkhand school girls to Delhi

HT 28 AUGUST 2014BY SAURAV ROY IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

Trafficking gangs hang around schools to lure girls with sweets and gifts to the national capital. This shocking revelation has been made by several girls who had gone missing and had been rescued by the Jharkhand police from Delhi recently.

A 14 year-old girl from Gumla who was dumped in Delhi after being allegedly raped by traffickers is the latest victim of this disturbing trend, as are the six teenagers from Latehar district who had gone missing from school and were brought back to Jharkhand from the national capital a fortnight ago.

“They said good food, gifts and better life awaits us in Delhi,” a minor girl who was forced to work as a domestic help at a posh locality in New Delhi has told NGOs and the police.

Men and women in their thirties spotted around schools get friendly with girls and offer them sweets, snacks and even gifts, the girls have said.

The father of one of the six girls had lodged a complaint against one Rekha Devi with the Manika police station in Latehar on January 13, 2014, alleging that Devi had lured his 12 year-old daughter to Delhi. HT has a copy of the FIR.

“The increase in the cases of girls going missing from schools hints at involvement of human trafficking agents,” said a senior police official from Latehar, wishing anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

According to records with the Missing Child Helpline, a joint initiative of the Jharkhand CID, Unicef and NGOs, out of the total 127 cases of missing children registered in the past six months, 27 had gone missing from schools.

The police are yet to confirm whether school officials too had a hand in the disappearance of the girls, although school authorities said the girls did not go missing from school but could have been picked up on their way to school or home.

Rishi Kant, an anti-human trafficking activist from Delhi and a founder member of Shakti Vahini, said a majority of Jharkhand minors rescued by him in Delhi went missing from schools. He slammed the poor security at schools in rural Jharkhand.

In fact, trafficking kingpin Baba Bamdev, who ran more than 400 placement agencies in the National Capital Region NCR and was arrested in Khunti last week, had been spotted by anti-trafficking activists thrice near schools in Khunti and Simdega in the past six months, said Baijnath Kumar, an activist.

The police had arrested Bamdev on the basis of information provided by Kumar.

Minor trafficked, raped by auto driver, dumped in Gurgaon

26 AUGUST 2014BY SAURAV ROY- PUBLISHED IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

A 14-year-old girl, who was allegedly trafficked from a Jharkhand village to Delhi in order to work as a domestic help, was sexually assaulted by an auto driver. The girl was abandoned near MG Road metro station in Gurgaon on Sunday.

The alleged victim is unable to disclose the location of her employer. She told the police that her employer’s neighbour, an auto driver, took her to Gurgaon and raped her there.

“The minor victim informed the police that she was brought to Delhi with a few more girls. After reaching the Capital, the trafficker placed all the girls, including her, in different households as domestic help,” said Rishi Kant, an activist with Shakti Vahini NGO, which rescued the girl.

The girl in her statement to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) said that she had to do all the household work, including baby-sitting.

The girl said the driver had sexually assaulted her many times before. She said he took her to a secluded place in Gurgaon, raped her and later dumped her near a metro station.

Gurgaon ACP (DLF) Dalbir Singh said, “We have registered the case under section 376 of the IPC and the POCSO Act against the accused on Sunday at Sector 29 police station. The victim alleged she had met the person in Delhi and he took her to a park in Gurgaon where he sexually assaulted her. Though she worked in Delhi as a domestic help, she cannot identify the location or recall the name of her employer.”

“We are conducting investigations as earlier the victim did not speak up; it was only after the doctor confirmed rape that she narrated the story to us,” he added.

After her rescue, the girl was taken to the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), where she was medically examined and later sent to a shelter home. The Jharkhand police will be sending a team to Delhi within two days to bring back the minor.

Gumla Superintendent of Police, Bheemsen T said, “We got the information on Monday and a team will be sent by Wednesday to bring the girl back.”

 (With inputs from HTC, Delhi, Gurgaon)

Trafficked tribal girl returns home with employer’s help

Pahariya Girl TraffickingPUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

A minor Pahariya tribal girl, identified as a Particularly Vulnerable Tribe, from Jharkhand who was trafficked to Delhi from Agra to work as a domestic worker was rescued after her employer’s relative, who is an Inspector with the Delhi Police, informed public authorities and NGO Shakti Vahini. The girl’s family and panchayat head reached Delhi to accompany her back to her Jharkhand village.

“A few years ago, an older girl in my village asked me to go away from the village. I had never left home before and realised later that they had brought me to Agra,” recounted Sonali, in her late teens.

“The employer in Agra beat me regularly almost every day. Then after a year, Pinky brought me to Delhi,” she said.

The Delhi employer’s relative, Rajiv Ratan, informed the Child Welfare Committee and Shakti Vahini that the tribal girl appeared to be a minor and trafficked.

‘Scared and confused’

“She appeared scared and it seemed she had been trafficked. I tried to track her local police station, but she could not recall her village name, or even the State she belonged to at first. Then I informed the NGO members.

They traced her village to Pakur in Jharkhand and then we contacted officials at the Jharkhand Bhawan,” said Mr. Ratan.

Shakti Vahini’s Rishi Kant said the organisation had rescued more than 70 girls from Jharkhand since January.

“The girl’s father reached Delhi three days ago. Unfortunately, he gave the girl a sad news about brother’s death. The family was distraught. Tribal children are particularly vulnerable and we need to have more concerted efforts to prevent trafficking from home States and support the children once they reach Delhi,” said Mr Rishi Kant.

Mukhiya Narayan Mahto who accompanied the girl’s family said several children from the village left their homes for Delhi and Mumbai to work and had lose contact with their families.

Shakti Vahini has rescued more than 70 girls from Jharkhand since January

Girl’s rescue in Delhi exposes trafficking racket in Bengal

1013140_10151874027915798_2119845624_nPUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

The rescue of the 16-year-old girl, haling from Haroa in North 24 Parganas, from a red light area in Delhi last week, seems to have busted a trafficking racket.

North 24 Parganas police have arrested Sk Sabir alias Rohit, the main accused, who kidnapped and trafficked the girl.

“The investigation has revealed that the accused is a habitual offender and we are probing whether he has trafficked other girls out of the State,” Bhaskar Mukherjee, Additional Superintendent of Police, North 24 Parganas, told The Hindu on Monday.

Mr. Mukherjee said that another woman Tanjina Khatum, an accomplice of the main accused, who used to befriend young girls, has also been detained.

The police said they have rescued another minor from the custody of Khatum. Meanwhile, the police have learnt that Sabir was in touch with two more young girls and was trying to lay a trap for them. It has also been learnt that the main accused is a resident of Purba Medinipur and operated in North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts. Sabir was arrested on August 9.

During a joint raid by representatives of a non-government organisation Shakti Vahini, West Bengal police, and the Delhi police, a 16-year-old student of class X was rescued earlier this month. The girl was abducted in June and her brother and other relatives went to Delhi to rescue her. A trafficker identified as Roshni, and hailing from the State was arrested in Delhi and brought to the State.

Rishi Kant, an activist with Shakti Vahini, said the development points to a trafficking racket operating out of the State. “Since the source trafficker has been arrested he believed that he is involved in other cases of trafficking and it requires attention of a special agency,” he said, adding that the organisation will be writing to the State Criminal Investigation Department to take over the case. The activist added that there is a need to expand the ambit of investigation and bring those operating in Delhi in the purview of investigation.

Jharkhand haats, melas hotbeds of traffickers

PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA – BY AMBIKA PANDIT

RANCHI: Wading past the surging devotees, Poonam Devi makes a desperate bid to reach a man walking a few metres ahead of her. Her struggle ends in vain as he disappears in the crowd out to witness the “rath yatra” that attracts thousands to the Jagannath temple every year in June-July. Tired and breathless, she stops to explain that he is the man who took her 14-year-old daughter away to Delhi without her knowledge. It has been a year and she has not heard from her.

The lone breadwinner for her seven children, Poonam is a widow who makes her living as a daily wage labourer. She came to the 300-year-old mela, which attracts both tribals and non-tribals, hoping to find the man who took her daughter away. Most traffickers are known to families one way or other. They either live in the same community or neighbouring villages. Often they operate through intermediaries in the villages. Oblivious to the evils of the larger world, gullible tribals are the softest targets.

Haat 3Over the years haats (weekly markets) and melas, such as the Jagannath chariot festival, have become hotbed of intermediaries and traffickers to track potential candidates. These huge gatherings are social platforms where boys and girls mingle. Targeted young girls are often lured with the promise of marriage and taken outside Jharkhand.

The presence of sleuths of the anti-human trafficking unit from Khunti district at the Jagannath mela further underlines the dangers confronting the youth from poverty-stricken villages of this region. Aradhna Singh, inspector, AHTU, Khunti said that the number of minors reported missing often increases after melas and haats.

Tribal women selling vegetables and other things at a weekly market. (Getty Images photo)

Tribal women selling vegetables and other things at a weekly market. (Getty Images photo)

Poonam said that the man who lured her daughter away had earlier taken her sons too. When the boys contacted her from Delhi she learnt that they were working as domestic helps. Estimates put domestic workers in India at 50 million. Delhi alone has an estimated 10 lakh workers. Most are migrants. There’s no law to regulate domestic work and placement agencies at the Central or state level.

The boys were not happy with the work condition and wanted to return. When she asked the trafficker to bring them back he was non-committal. Finally, she went to Delhi to bail them out of the mess. Before life could normalise, her daughter vanished from the house. It turned out, after a frenetic search that the same man had taken away her daughter too. Poonam now wants the Jharkhand police to catch the trafficker and punish him.

Walking past the stalls in the mela, even a mention of “Delhi” or a casual reference to trafficking invites angry stares from bystanders. A woman is overheard telling another fellow villager to be cautious and not to engage in any discussion with strangers on Delhi and domestic work.
At the sprawling mela, stalls peddle bows and arrows, iron utensils, fishing nets and bird cages made of bamboo. Villager Dileep Kumar, who makes a livelihood selling fishing nets, hesitantly shares his ordeal. He murmurs that his daughter too was taken to Delhi for work about a year ago and he has not heard from her since. Stark poverty drove her to seek work outside, he says. Worried to the bone, he seeks help to bring his daughter back.

Tribal painting on a wall of a house in a Jharkhand village. (Getty Images photo)

Tribal painting on a wall of a house in a Jharkhand village. (Getty Images photo)

Baidnath Kumar from NGO Diya Seva Sansthan admits that the problem is acute and emphasises on the need to create a state-police and NGO coordination mechanism. To that effect, a missing child helpline was set-up in October 2013. The NGO closely involved in rescue and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking is manning the helpline set-up by CID, Jharkhand. Based on calls received 128 cases of missing children have been registered since October last year. Most victims are girls. As many as 78 children were recovered following up complaints made on the helpline.

Kumar said that in 98% cases, the girls and boys are taken to Delhi followed by Mumbai, Pune and Goa. “Girls from this belt are also being pushed into prostitution by traffickers,” Kumar added.
Rishi kant from NGO Shakti Vahini who has been part of the teams that have rescued many tribal girls from Jharkhand in Delhi, particularly over the last two years, warns that more and more women and minor girls are being brought to Delhi for work by traffickers.

“Due to uneven development in states with substantial tribal population such as Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Bengal, Assam and Orissa, such migration of women and minor girls is on the rise,” he said. “The migration happens through unregulated placement agencies that often indulge in human trafficking,” he says.

NGOs working with domestic workers say trafficking in Delhi/NCR has grown over 10 years. “Many girls end up in exploitative circumstances and are treated as slaves. Placement agencies make huge profits and the victims never get salaries for their backbreaking work,” Rishi kant says.