Delhi raps region on trafficking

Delhi raps region on trafficking

Delhi raps region on trafficking


Guwahati, Feb. 17: The Union ministry of home affairs has asked three northeastern states to improve their performance in combating human trafficking. Official sources said the ministry’s anti-trafficking cell had taken serious note of the Northeast becoming a major source of trafficking of women and children to other parts of the country. “Expressing concern over reports of human traffickers preying on the northeastern states, the ministry has asked police in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland to put their act together,” a source said.

He said the home ministry had last month reviewed measures taken by different states to combat human trafficking, which has assumed the dimensions of an organised crime in the country. The home ministry is also considering a proposal to make Guwahati the nodal centre for coordinating anti-trafficking operations in the Northeast, he added. The ministry has decided to give cash rewards to police personnel for outstanding work in the field of anti-human trafficking and has invited nominations from all the states. “This is being done to encourage policemen to improve their performance in this field, which held low priority for them till not very long ago,” the source said.

“Because of their Mongoloid features, girls from the Northeast are sold at a higher price because they are presented as foreigners from Southeast Asia. Eventually these girls land up in brothels and circuses,” he said. A large number of girls trafficked from the Northeast are also forced to enter into wedlock in Haryana, particularly in Hissar district. He said Assam police, with the help of NGOs, had rescued many girls from Hissar who were forcibly married after being trafficked. “These forced marriages are happening because of the dismal gender ratio in Haryana,” the source said.

The home ministry has taken steps to strengthen law enforcement response against human trafficking as a joint initiative of the Centre and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Because of the inter-state and international dimensions of such crimes, the home ministry has also stressed on improving cooperation among the police forces of different states and with the CBI.

“This problem has an international dimension also because girls from Bangladesh and Nepal are trafficked to metropolitan cities and popular tourist destinations in the country like Goa through eastern India,” the source said. The ministry has also asked the state police forces to send regular details on missing children and women and gangs operating in their respective areas to the CBI, which has established a criminal intelligence cell to collect and share such data. The states were also asked to expeditiously set up anti-human trafficking units, to investigate the crime at all points — source, transit and destination — and to keep an eye on all suspectspotter, recruiter, buyer, seller, transporter, harbourer and financier.

We try our best, police say

Sumit Kumar Singh, New Delhi, February 11 2012,

Despite a force of more than 70,000 police personnel, a special unit for children, an anti-human trafficking cell and a juvenile justice unit, last year 1309 missing children cases were reported in the capital. Police claimed to have recovered around half of them.

Police also found 557 unidentified children last year, who were sent to children’s homes.

According to National Crime Record Bureau figures on crime against children, there were 3630 cases reported in  the capital in 2010. The agency found that 2,839 children had become victims of  crimes in 2009.

“We have got a long way to go. Delhi has the best model as Delhi police is more sensitive towards such issues compared to other cities,” additional deputy commissioner of Police Suman Nalwa said.

But in many slums and other low income localities where government runs welfare programmes, the police are not involved, he said.

“If these are the areas where child abuse is rampant the police should be encouraged to participate. Everything is on paper right now. There is no co-ordination between police personnel across states. We need to form a comprehensive network to prevent crime against children in Delhi as this city is the most vulnerable,” Nalwa said.

Last year, Delhi Police arrested 12 persons, busting international and inter-state human trafficking rackets.

An anti human trafficking unit gathers intelligence on organised gangs involved in missing children cases, bonded labour and trafficking of girls for prostitution. It has offices in all the 11 police districts of the national capital. The district investigation unit (DIU) officers looks after anti-trafficking matters.

“An officer of  the assistant commissioner of police rank works 24 hours with one inspector, two sub-inspectors and other subordinates in each unit,” the officer said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (outer) BS Jaiswal told Deccan Herald, “There are various forms of child abuse. We have trained staff in every police station that especially deals with children becoming victim of abuse. We conduct periodic raids at various office and factories to rescue bonded child workers.”

Similarly, Deputy Commissioner of Police (east) Prabhakar said, “The beat constables have been sensitised to look out for cases of suspected trafficking and bonded child labourers at transit points like bus stands, taxi stands, isolated hotels, guest houses and on the streets.”

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Kidney racket busted


LUCKNOW/CHANDIGARH: Beware of anyone who tries to befriend you next time you go to a liquor shop. He may convince you to get a minor operation done in exchange of anything between Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh.

Lucknow police on Sunday busted a gang of four miscreants involved in arranging kidneys for the needy after luring poor people into selling theirs. Till now, they claimed to have sold kidneys to at least 7 people-all in Chandigarh.

The four were identified as Harishankar Maurya, the kingpin of the gang, Dilip Nigam, Vinod Dubey, and Harish Prajapati. Maurya, who was a private teacher about a year ago, according to Lucknow DIG D K Thakur, used to stay in Chandigarh and search for patients needing a kidney transplant. He focused on only two hospitals, Silver Oaks and Shivalik Hospital in Mohali.

After assuring a kidney to the kin of the patient, Maurya used to contact his partners-Dilip and Vinod in Lucknow. Maurya would charge over Rs 3 lakh from the patient’s kin. The duo then used to search for gullible targets near country-made liquor shops. They used to convince people to get a minor operation done and donate one kidney and get Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh.

Harish, who is a computer designer, used to contribute by preparing fake certificates and documents to prove that the patient and the donor were related to each other. Prima facie the involvement of the hospitals has not been ascertained, the DIG said.

Speaking to TOI at Chandigarh, Dr Arjinder Bains, a surgeon of Shivalik Hospital in Mohali, said, “A police team from Lucknow had visited the hospital a few days ago and in fact, we were the ones who helped them nab the culprits. A prospective donor had approached us and as per rules, we had sought verification of the NOC and found it to be faked. Thereafter, the donor was never operated upon.”

When contacted, Dr Akhil Bhargava, of Silver Oaks denied that any police team had visited the hospital in connection with any scam.

“There was a police team from Lucknow who had come to Mohali about four days ago in connection with an investigation of a minor who had gone missing. Upon investigation, it was found that the alleged kidnappers were staying in a hotel in Burail, Chandigarh and the team from Lucknow was asked to approach Chandigarh police,” said DSP (city) Darshan Singh Mann.

(With inputs from Abhijit Prashar in Chandigarh)

Kidney racket gang may have over 2 dozen members

LUCKNOW: While the number of victims whose kidneys were transplanted in exchange of money have been rising, the investigators have a hint that the number of miscreants, who are members of the gang, could also go beyond two-dozen.

Sources said that one of the gang members, who is still out of the police net, is supposed to be a legal luminary. It is in this regard that the police have applied for the remand of the four accused including their kingpin Harishankar Maurya, a resident of Brindawan Yojna in PGI area.

The other members of the gang were identified as Dilip Nigam, a resident of Malihabad; Vinod Dubey and Harish Prajapati, both residents of Telibagh. The police had arrested the four on December 25 and busted the kidney trade racket.

Initially, as per the miscreants’ claim, the number of people whose kidneys were transplanted in exchange of money, was believed to be only 7. However, the police search resulted in around 20 victims coming up with the same information that their kidneys were transplanted through the same gang.

During the investigation, now the police have got some information that the number of people involved in the gang is also approximately to touch two-dozen marks with Maurya as their kingpin. The police sources also said that two members of the gang are also supposed to be from Nepal.

Though the officials, when contacted by TOI, refused to confirm the number as well as about Nepal residence of two members of the gang, they said that efforts are being made to take the remand of the accused and know about the functioning of the gang. A senior official, preferring anonymity, did confirm the involvement of a legal luminary in the racket. He said that once the court opens on January 2, efforts would be made to pursue the remand application. DIG D K Thakur also said that once the police are able to get the remand of accused, a team of officials would be sent to Chandigarh to ascertain the nexus of the hospital staff with the gang members, if any.

Efforts to rehabilitate them diluted due to indiscretion of judicial magistrates

(Hyderabad) While an estimated 1.5 lakh children and women in the State are victims of trafficking and sexual abuse; efforts to rescue and rehabilitate them are being gravely diluted due to indiscretion of judicial magistrates.

Even as few victims are rescued due to surreptitious nature of trafficking, many of them fail to be rehabilitated due to inopportune releases. “Many rescued victims are immediately taken away by traffickers and are again subjected to sexual abuse. This is because magistrates release them merely on production of certificates, which are most often counterfeit. This has been our grouse,” says Chaya Ratan, Principal Secretary to Government, Women Development and Child Welfare Department (WDCWD). Officials informed that magistrates order release without even seeking social investigation report, family background or case studies of the victims. In November last year, over 60 sexually exploited minor children were rescued from areas of Chandrapur and Yavartala, but officials informed that they were released within days without being provided any opportunity for counselling, education or training. The ‘Swadhar’ and ‘Ujjawala’ homes established by the government are being run with support of NGOs, for rehabilitation and reintegration of trafficked women. But, NGOs too allege that such releases are leaving them incapacitated. “Most women and child victims are harassed both physically and mentally. While they are rescued and brought to the home, we are forced to release most of them within a week due to court orders. Some even leave in a day,” said the manager of an Ujjwala home in Ramanthapur.

“When the court that is supposed to protect their rights orders their release, we are powerless and can do nothing for their rehabilitation in such a short span,” she added. Several NGOs running the homes suggested that victims would benefit from such a scheme only if they are made to stay for at least three months.

 “Several times we know that the person seeking release is the trafficker, but we have to let them go due to orders from a magistrate. Many are brought back to the home a second time after being caught in raids again,” said Padmavati of Kasturbha Gandhi National Memorial Trust which runs a Swadhar home.

 Officials of the WDCWD had brought the issue to the notice of the Chief Justice in 2009 and had also written to the Registrar of the High Court requesting review of training curriculum for judicial magistrates to incorporate such concerns. Officials informed that they are still awaiting response.


SHAKTI VAHINI Welcomes Ratification of UN Conventions against Transnational Organised Crime and Corruption By the Indian Government

The UN headquarters in New York

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India has ratified the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and its three protocols and the United Nations Convention against Corruption.The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime is the main international instrument in the fight against transnational organized crime. It recognizes the need to foster and enhance close international cooperation in order to tackle those problems. The convention is further supplemented by three Protocols, which target specific areas and manifestations of organized crime namely Protocols to combat (1) trafficking in persons (2) migrant smuggling and (3) illicit trafficking in firearms.

The United Nations Convention against Corruption complements the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. The Convention introduces a comprehensive set of standards, measures and rules that all countries can apply in order to strengthen their legal and regulatory regimes to fight corruption. The Convention enumerates in detail the measures to prevent corruption, including the application of prevention policies and practices, the establishment of bodies for that purpose, the application of codes of conduct for public servants, and public procurement. It recommends promoting transparency and accountability in the management of public finances and in the private sector, with tougher accounting and auditing standards. Measures to prevent money-laundering are also provided for, together with measures to secure the independence of the judiciary, public reporting and participation of society are encouraged as preventive measures. The Convention recommends the State Parties to adopt such legislative and other measures as may be necessary to establish a whole series of criminal offences. These are:

• Corruption of national or foreign public officials and officials of public international organizations;

• embezzlement, misappropriation or other diversion by a public official of any public or private property;

• trading in influence;

• abuse of functions and illicit enrichment.

In the private sector, the Convention calls for the creation of offences of embezzlement and corruption. There are other offences relating to laundering the proceeds of crime, handling stolen property, obstructing the administration of justice, and participating in and attempting embezzlement or corruption.

 This also implies that  Government of India formally adopting definition of Human Trafficking which is :“Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;

The UN Protocol makes Human Trafficking and Smuggling a organised crime and call upon states to provide victim support , victim repatriation , witness support and protection , Joint Investigations between member nations  etc. It specially calls upon nations to ensure  implementing measures to provide for the physical, psychological and social recovery of victims of trafficking in persons, including, in appropriate cases, in cooperation with non-governmental organizations, other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society, and, in particular, the provision of: (a) Appropriate housing; (b) Counselling and information, in particular as regards their legal rights, in a language that the victims of trafficking in persons can understand; (c) Medical, psychological and material assistance; and (d) Employment, educational and training opportunities. It mandates nations to  ensure that take into account the age, gender and special needs of victims of trafficking in persons, in particular the special needs of children, including appropriate housing, education and care.

It also provides for nations to provide for the physical safety of victims of trafficking in persons while they are within its territory and  ensure that its domestic legal system contains measures that offer  victims of trafficking in persons the possibility of obtaining compensation for damage suffered.

It takes a commitment from nations that they shall establish comprehensive policies, programmes and other measures inter alia  to prevent and combat trafficking in persons; and (b) to protect victims of trafficking in persons, especially women and children, from revictimization. States Parties shall endeavour to undertake measures such as research, information and mass media campaigns and social and economic initiatives to prevent and combat trafficking in persons. Policies, programmes and other measures established in accordance with this article shall, as appropriate, include cooperation with non-governmental organizations, other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society.States Parties shall take or strengthen measures, including through bilateral or multilateral cooperation, to alleviate the factors that make persons, especially women and children, vulnerable to trafficking, such as poverty, underdevelopment and lack of equal opportunity. States Parties shall adopt or strengthen legislative or other measures, such as educational, social or cultural measures, including through bilateral and multilateral cooperation, to discourage the demand that fosters all forms of exploitation of persons, especially women and children, that leads to trafficking.

 It mandates that nations shall, as appropriate, cooperate with one another by exchanging information, in accordance with their domestic law, to enable them to determine: (a) whether individuals crossing or attempting to cross an international border with travel documents belonging to other persons or without travel documents are perpetrators or victims of trafficking in persons; the types of travel document that individuals have used or attempted to use to cross an international border for the purpose of trafficking in persons; and the means and methods used by organized criminal groups for the purpose of trafficking in persons, including the recruitment and transportation of victims, routes and links between and among individuals and groups engaged in such trafficking, and possible measures for detecting them.

It ensures that nations  shall provide or strengthen training for law enforcement, immigration and other relevant officials in the prevention of trafficking in persons. The training should focus on methods used in preventing such trafficking, prosecuting the traffickers and protecting the rights of the victims, including protecting the victims from the traffickers. The training should also take into account the need to consider human rights and child- and gender-sensitive issues and it should encourage cooperation with nongovernmental organizations, other relevant organizations and other elements of civil society.

Reacting to the news Ravi Kant Advocate Supreme Court of India and President Shakti Vahini said that the ratification  by India of the UN Protocol is a big step for the protection of rights of victims of Human Trafficking and Smuggling. This will certainly lead to stricter laws on Human Trafficking in India. This is also a step that Government of India has shown its commitment to fight Human Trafficking and Smuggling.

Special force to combat trafficking

Department of Police, Delhi

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NEW DELHI: The Delhi Police is creating specialized Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTU) that will trace missing children and look into cases of trafficking of girls for prostitution and children for bonded labour.

The AHTU would track organised gangs operating in Delhi and NCR who have been trafficking women and children from the states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal and eastern Uttar Pradesh. Such gangs lure women and children by promising them jobs in Delhi, but sell them off to be put up for begging, prostitution or as bonded labourers.

Around 2,000 children, including young girls, women and children, go missing from Delhi every year. Apart from that, several gangs from outside the city run trafficking rackets in the garb of placement agencies, said a source.

The new units are being created following a direction by the ministry of home affairs (MHA) in which it was reportedly stressed upon creating 335 anti-human trafficking units in the country for which Rs 8.72 crore has already been released as a first installment to all States. According to recent National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) figures, 23,608 complaints regarding violation of human rights of women, including trafficking, between April 2007 and January 31, 2011, have been registered. The cases of missing persons are much more than these, said a police officer.

The AHTUs, in all the 11 districts of Delhi, will have officials who will gather intelligence on organised gangs, trained staff to deal with trafficking cases, deal with victims of trafficking and help in rehabilitation of the victims. “Rather than chasing the gangs, these units will help in combating trafficking,” said a senior police officer.

Delhi Police would be working in close coordination with ministry of women and child development, ministry of labour and employment, ministry of tourism, ministry of railways and Delhi government in this regard, apart from NGOs. Soon, there will be a dedicated helpline for these units as well.

The units are already under formation in all the 11 districts of Delhi where District Investigation Unit (DIU) officers would be looking after the anti-trafficking matters. “An officer of ACP rank would work 24 hours with one inspector, two sub-inspectors and other subordinates in each unit and they would be present for victims of trafficking on all calls,” said the officer.

The Delhi Police would also begin public awareness campaigns to make the potential target and vulnerable groups aware of such activities, including traps laid by traffickers. “Beat constables will be sensitised to look out for cases of suspected trafficking at all transit points like railway stations, bus stands, taxi stands, public places, isolated hotels, guest house, streets, etc,” said the officer.

On February 2, Delhi Police had arrested four members of a human trafficking gang who had bought a handicapped girl from Jharkhand for Rs 10,000.

Bangladesh farmers cash in on kidneys

By Syed Tashfin Chowdhury in Asia Times Online

DHAKA – Mofidul Islam, a 23-year-old Bangladeshi farmer unable to pay a series of loans worth about US$800, took the advice of an acquaintance from a nearby village to sell one of his kidneys and get in return at least 130,000 takas (US$1,728).

Islam, who was eventually operated on at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University in Dhaka, is part of a growing scandal that involves poor farmers, particularly from the far north part of Bangladesh where he comes from, and involves operations in India and as far afield as Singapore as well as in Dhaka.

“I accepted the idea as not only would it help me repay the loans, it will also provide me with money to buy some land of my own,” said Islam, who works land in Joypurhat district. “Two and a half years later, I am still healthy and have no problems in doing my daily activities,” said Mofidul. He was unaware that the whole business of selling human organs is illegal and that violation of the law can lead to jail terms of three to seven years and a 300,000 takas fine – not to mention that he will have to maintain a pretty healthy lifestyle to keep going into middle age on his remaining cluster of nephrons.

Police at one station in Joypurhat have identified at least 42 cases where impoverished farmers have sold their kidneys. The leading Bengali daily, Prothom Alo, has reported that at least 200 villagers had sold off their body parts. The news has awakened the health sector authorities in Bangladesh to a trade that has been going on unabatedly under their very noses over the past five years.

“We are still investigating,” told Fazlul Karim, the officer-in-charge of Kalai Police Station in Joypurhat, told Asia Times Online. On “humanitarian grounds”, action had not been taken against the individuals who had sold their body parts.

So far, Islam may consider himself one of the more lucky donors. Mehdi Hasan, another 23-year-old from the same area, was persuaded to sell his kidney at 200,000 takas. However, once in Dhaka, he was persuaded into selling a part of his liver at 300,000 takas to LabAid hospital on May 8.

Doctors, he said, had assured him that this part of his organ would grow back – “I was unaware how this organ functions in my body,” he said. After the operation, the patient’s brother gave him 150,000 takas while the brokers who arranged the deal did not pay him anything.

Police have so far arrested around seven people involved in the body organ racket including brokers. Six others have absconded, said Fazlul Karim. “The racket has been operating … since 2006,” said Karim, who added that the price of kidneys varied from 130,000 takas to as high as 400,000 takas.

Police arrested the alleged ring leader Tareque Azim – who had guided Islam through the Dhaka hospital network to his eventual operation – on September 8. Azim developed the idea in 2006 after looking for a kidney for his cousin in Canada. A management graduate from Khulna BL College, in the southwest of Bangladesh, Azim has denied involvement in any trade although he did mention to various media that Joypurhat is a “kidney warehouse”.

Police have collected names of medical institutions, doctors and nurses in Dhaka involved in the racket. They have also identified cases where some victims were made to pose as relatives of patients and flown abroad to donate organs. “One such case was of Abdus Sattar, who later became a broker,” said Karim. Sattar had flown to Mount Elizabeth Hospital of Singapore. “He was also the first person to sell a kidney from Joypurhat district,” said Karim.

Azim told police that he often mediated between donors and patients through an outlet of Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Banani, Dhaka. Karim said kidney donors were also flown to hospitals in India.

On September 13, District Commissioner Ashok Kumar Biswas said the government and local administrations will take steps to raise awareness amongst the poor and landless people of rural areas where donors are found. He also pledged to rehabilitate those who have already sold their kidneys and liver.

A number of free health camps have been set up in areas at risk in the past few weeks, according to local civil surgeon Dr Mozammel Haque. The illegal world of human organs trade was valued at around $50 million in 2008, and involves a range of source countries. Due to extreme poverty and high profits, illegal body organ transplantation has risen in India and Pakistan over the past two decades.

Although India passed the Transplantation of Human Organs Act in 1994, illegal organ trafficking persists in the country. Last month, India passed the Transplantation of Human Organs Amendment bill, which makes transplantation legal only “if donors [are] related to recipients in one of four permitted ways: as parents, children, siblings, or spouses”.

Syed Tashfin Chowdhury is a senior staff writer at New Age in Dhaka. (Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)