Global human trafficking racket busted in Hyderabad

PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

HYDERABAD: Police, on Sunday, busted an international human trafficking racket and rescued two women from Barkas in Old City. Two persons were arrested. The two victims rescued by Chandrayangutta police, were reportedly sexually exploited by their employers from Abu Dhabi, who also made them clean toilets with bare hands and cut tons of onions as a form of soft punishment.

The arrested have been identified as Imtiyaz, 35, and his mother Fatima, while the victims were a 29-year-old housewife from Barkas and her 32-year-old cousin from Rakshapuram Colony. Both the women have two children each and the income earned by their alcoholic husbands was not sufficient to run the family, South Zone DCP V Satyanarayana said.

As the women were looking for means to support their families, Fatima approached them with a job offer in Abu Dhabi. She told them that through her son Imtiyaz, who had provided employment to scores of people from Old city in Gulf countries, she could find them lucrative jobs as domestic helps in Abu Dhabi for a paltry down payment and a monthly commission in the earnings.

“The victims who believed Fatima borrowed money at a high interest and paid her Rs 1 lakh each to go to Abu Dhabhi. Fatima told them that they will be able to send home Rs 30,000 per month,” Chandrayangutta additional inspector S Raghavendra said.

On November 11, the two women boarded a flight at RGIA and reached Abu Dhabi, where they were received by their employer. After they started working, within no time the two women realised that they had to do a lot more than performing the traditional duties of a domestic help. “The women were sexually exploited not just by their employer, but even by his guests in a brutal manner. The victims were beaten up when they resisted,” Raghavendra added.

Apart from this abuse, the employer used to make the victims clean toilets, including commodes, with bare hands. “Unable to bear the humiliation, when we finally mustered courage and protested saying that we came to Abu Dhabhi to do household work, the employer made us cut sacks of onions continuously as punishment,” one of the victims told police.

Unable to bear the torture, the 32-year-old woman fell ill and had to be hospitalised. She was then sent back to Hyderabad by the employer on December 1. After reaching the city, she approached police and narrated the horrid tale. Cops immediately swung into action and picked up Imtiyaz. Through him, they managed to convince the employer in Abu Dhabhi to send the second victim to Hyderabad on Sunday. “We have recorded the statements of both victims on Sunday and arrested the brokers under Sections 420, 384 of IPC and relevant sections of PITA,” the DCP said.

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.”

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

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RASHMI DROLIA IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

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.

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

TIMES OF INDIA

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.

2 arrested for trafficking

PRESS TRUST OF INDIA

Two men have been arrested for allegedly trafficking a 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl to and plotting to sell her abroad using social networks.

The two accused have been identified as Alam Giri and Raj Kumar Pandey, both of whom were distant relatives of the victim, and were arrested by the East Delhi Police from Mandawli and Nizamuddin area.

The girl was brought to two years ago and confined by the duo, who were using social networks like WhatsApp and to send the girl’s photos abroad and negotiate with foreign customers, police said.

“They had even finalized a deal with someone in France and the girl was soon supposed to be ‘transported’ to her buyer,” a senior police official said.

However, the girl somehow managed to flee from their clutches with the help of her 27-year-old boyfriend.

The incident came to light when the girl reached Karkardooma along with her lover to marry him. When she revealed her age, their advocate informed police.

“When we inquired with her, she revealed her ordeal to us. We then raided the hideouts of Alam Giri and Raj Kumar Pandey and arrested them,” a senior police official said.

Further investigations revealed that a woman named Beauty Akhtar, who is currently in Bangladesh to get her passport renewed, is the kingpin of the gang.

Police is scanning the social media accounts of the arrested duo to find out whether they had sold other trafficked girls in the past as well.

“We have registered a case under sections of human trafficking and six acts of Protection of Children from Sexual Abuse (POCSO) at Mandawali police station. Further investigations are on and efforts will be made to nab the other members of the gang,” the official added.

2 arrested for trafficking

PUBLISHED IN BUSINESS STANDARD

Two men have been arrested for allegedly trafficking a 15-year-old Bangladeshi girl to and plotting to sell her abroad using social networks.

The two accused have been identified as Alam Giri and Raj Kumar Pandey, both of whom were distant relatives of the victim, and were arrested by the East Delhi Police from Mandawli and Nizamuddin area.

The girl was brought to two years ago and confined by the duo, who were using social networks like WhatsApp andto send the girl’s photos abroad and negotiate with foreign customers, police said.

“They had even finalized a deal with someone in France and the girl was soon supposed to be ‘transported’ to her buyer,” a senior police official said.

However, the girl somehow managed to flee from their clutches with the help of her 27-year-old boyfriend.

The incident came to light when the girl reached Karkardooma along with her lover to marry him. When she revealed her age, their advocate informed police.

“When we inquired with her, she revealed her ordeal to us. We then raided the hideouts of Alam Giri and Raj Kumar Pandey and arrested them,” a senior police official said.

Further investigations revealed that a woman named Beauty Akhtar, who is currently in Bangladesh to get her passport renewed, is the kingpin of the gang.

Police is scanning the social media accounts of the arrested duo to find out whether they had sold other trafficked girls in the past as well.

“We have registered a case under sections of human trafficking and six acts of Protection of Children from Sexual Abuse (POCSO) at Mandawali police station. Further investigations are on and efforts will be made to nab the other members of the gang,” the official added.

Our very own Malala: trafficked at 12, crusader and global Girl Hero at 18

trafficking story

PUBLISHED IN THE TELEGRAPH03metlady_184626

Anoyara Khatun was all of 13 when she led an army of children across a canal at midnight, caught a trafficker and saved a family on the verge of losing their teenage daughter to a trafficking ploy in the name of marriage.

She has since managed to save at least 50 minor girls from child marriage.

n A few months after her first act of courage, Anoyara managed to pin down a trafficking tout along with a battalion of children and taught him a lesson he would find hard to forget.

Till date, she has foiled nearly 85 trafficking attempts, helped rescue and reunite more than 200 children with their families and got 200 dropouts back into school.

n The following year, when former education minister Kanti Biswas was on his way back from a village in Sandeshkhali in the Sunderbans, Anoyara and her army of kids trooped in, blocked his path and forced him to accede to their demand to build more schools in the village.

03metanwara15_184914Today, Sandeshkhali has 84 schools.

The first thing that strikes you about Anoyara, 18, is that her eyes speak. They are large, luminous and transfix you at once.

She is seated on a stool outside the Dhagagia Social Welfare Society’s office in Sandeshkhali, her face radiant in the afternoon sun as she contemplates the world around her.

“Don’t you think this place is beautiful?” she asks, her eyes scanning the expanse of green on one side and the water bodies on the other.

She is clearly in love with the hinterland to which she belongs and has taken upon herself to protect.

Her world wasn’t always so beautiful. It couldn’t have been after being trafficked at 12.

But this powerhouse of a girl from Chhoto Askara, a tiny village that is part of Bengal’s most trafficking-prone belt, isn’t the type to dwell in the past. Anoyara has not only left her private hell behind but also rebuilt her life as an activist leading an army of children who battle trafficking and child marriage in quirky little ways.

Her courage and commitment to protecting the girl child has been widely recognised, the biggest honour coming from the foundation led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai.

03metleadAnoyara is one of the “Girl Heroes” from across the world that the Malala Fund is currently celebrating for 30 days — from October 11 to November 9 — as a beacon of “exemplary courage and leadership”.

The Malala Fund, which focuses on helping girls go to school and raise their voices for the right to education, has tagged Anoyara as “#StrongerThan Social Ills like Child Trafficking and Early Marriage” and anointed her a “true Girl Hero”.

But long before Anoyara emerged as a force against exploitation, she had to grapple with a dark and traumatic phase in her life.

Born in 1996 as the youngest among four siblings — three sisters and a brother — Anoyara lost her father when she was five. Her mother began working as a cook in a local school to feed the family but life was hard.

“I was going to school but had to drop out when I was in Class VI,” recalls Anoyara, who doesn’t like to revisit her past. “I don’t like to talk about what I have left behind. I like to talk about how I am moving forward in life,” she says with a conviction nobody can defy.

Anoyara was barely 12 when she was trafficked to Delhi and forced into domestic labour, a hellhole she managed to run away from after a year. The transition from victim to victor was quick, a trait that has since defined her work as an activist.

Anoyara reels off a list of activities she and her children’s groups in the area have been involved in to spread awareness among villagers about child marriage and trafficking.

We also learn that she is now the leader of as many as 80 children’s groups across 40 villages in Sandeshkhali.

These groups are all affiliated to Save the Children and the Dhagagia Social Welfare Society-run multi-activity centre, which Anoyara had joined when she was 13.

“There were only 10 groups when I joined and then I got more girls like me to join in. Now there are more than 1,600 children and I keep track of all of them!” she smiles, holding up the Nokia C1 phone that she uses to keep in touch with her groups.

“I got this (the phone) three years ago as a prize in Ranchi. It helps me in my work because I can connect with people and children’s groups can call me any time.”

For a fleeting moment, the child in the 18-year-old surfaces. “We don’t have a television at home but I can listen to songs on this phone. Nachiketa and Shreya Ghoshal are my favourites,” Anoyara says, breaking into a smile.

She quickly goes back to describing how her groups operate around Sandeshkhali I and II and Minakhan, quizzing families on the whereabouts of children they have married off or sent out with strangers to work. “You know, my sisters were all married off at 13 or 14. None of us knew anything about child marriage at the time. For us, it was a custom,” she recounts.

Her sharp eyes soften as the conversation delves deeper into the subject. “When you endure a lot of pain, trouble and misery, you take it as a challenge to overcome that. Adversity was my driving force. I realised that if I didn’t bounce back from my ordeal, many more girls from Sandeshkhali would go missing. It became a mission and a challenge to myself to put a stop to exploitation of children and keep them from falling into the dangerous trap of trafficking or child marriage.”

But turning pain into power was far from easy for Anoyara, who had just stepped into her teens when her mission began.

“Before reaching out to people in the villages, I had to convince my own family to allow me to step out of the house. I reminded them of the pain they had gone through when I was away and how important it was to get other families to realise the dangers too,” she says.

Breaking the ice with villagers indifferent to “worldly advice” from a bunch of “precocious children” was the next challenge. “They would say, ‘What do you kids know? Who are you to tell us?’ It was difficult to get the elders to pay attention to us but we never gave up. We would keep visiting them endlessly till they were convinced and clear about what we as children were trying to tell them.”

Anoyara’s courage came to the fore when she saved a girl from the clutches of touts and captured the men with help of a group of children her age. “In our village, people go to sleep by eight and children aren’t allowed outside. I managed to get out of the house, take some friends along, chased the traffickers across the village, jumped canals and caught them. It was a huge risk but it changed the way elders looked at us.”

She went on to become a role model in her village and the adjoining areas, employing out-of-the-box strategies for her children’s army to stalk, spot, seize and hand over traffickers to the authorities.

“Our first rule is to follow any outsider we see in the village and pass the message to each other at the multi-activity centre. If we find them going into a house, two or three of us will playfully saunter in, hang around, eavesdrop on the conversation and then come back and report to the group,” she reveals.

“If we realise that the person has wrong intentions and could be a potential trafficker, we immediately meet the child in question and explain why they should not go away with the stranger. Then we go and meet the family as a group to help them understand too. And if we find them running away with a child, we will drag them to the centre of the village and tie them up.”

While some traffickers mend their ways and even join the child protection committees in the villages, others don’t dare enter Anoyara’s territory again.

She takes you to a multi-activity centre to meet one of the children’s groups with a spring in her step, smiling at the children who squeal: “Didi! Didi!”

“How are you? Have you eaten? Why are you looking glum? Smile!” Anoyara tells the children, later joining them in a game of Chinese Whispers.

Keya Parvin, a 15-year-old member of one of the children’s groups, has something to tell us. “Do you know that once we children raided a wedding and stopped a family from marrying off a child? We have learnt so much from Didi. All of us want to be like her.”

The advantages of being a child activist are many, according to Anoyara. “Children will always be the first ones to know. And a child will always listen to someone her age and treat her like a friend. An adult would most likely try to instruct,” she says.

“Everyone from Maulvis and Brahmins to village heads and the police listen to us now. But that doesn’t mean we are rebels. We respect elders.”

Anoyara had been nominated for The International Children’s Peace Prize in 2012, an award that went to Malala the next year. Last June, she travelled to Brussels to represent Save The Children in a Global Partnership for Education conference.

Aamar passport hobey, bideshey jabo…bhabtei parini (I couldn’t have imagined that I would have a passport and go abroad). I loved the glass buildings and ate a lot of chocolates. I also met Malala’s father,” recalls Anoyara, who idolises Malala.

“I want to be like her someday. I was so happy the day she won the Nobel. I keep news clippings of her whenever I find one.”

While Anoyara aspires to be like Malala, nothing gives her more satisfaction than bringing a missing girl back home or stopping a child marriage.

She has made it a ritual to organise a big children’s party whenever a trafficked child returns to Sandeshkhali. “We collect money and organise a feast of dal, bhaja and egg curry at the multi-activity centre. We sing, dance and play from morning till evening. And then, like a friend, we get the rescued child to talk to us, share her misery and join our group.”

For Anoyara, the joy comes from providing the love and protection that she had once yearned for. “What I didn’t get I try to give to others,” she says.

Alongside her busy schedule, Anoyara is studying for her graduation in a local college. She is the first from her village to go this far.

An average day in her life means waking up at 6am, reading namaz and tutoring 25 children before leaving for college. Back home by 4pm, she goes around her village checking on the children.

Like most teenage girls, Anoyara loves her trinkets, kajal and the colour pink. The one thing that irks her is the idea of keeping pets. “I love cats and dogs but I don’t like the idea of caging anyone, be it animals or humans. They should all be set free.”

Her refuge from the nightmare of being caged is a little diary full of songs and poems. They are all about human trafficking and tell you a bit about her suffering as a child. “Mon kharap holei aami likhi (I write when I am sad),” she says.

Her ambition is to learn English, computers and cycling. “I think these will make me braver,” she says, not bothering to elaborate.

Once again her eyes do the talking.

What message do you have for Anoyara Khatun? Tell ttmetro@abpmail.com