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.

Faridabad maid’s death: One held, second autopsy likely

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NEW DELHI: Six days after a tribal girl from Uttar Dinajpur in West Bengal was found dead in mysterious circumstances at the residence of her employers in sector 49, the Faridabad police arrested the owner of a Delhi-based placement agency, Rafiq, on Saturday. He had been booked on the basis of an FIR on a complaint of the deceased domestic worker’s mother. With a second postmortem to establish the cause of death expected only by Monday, the girl’s decomposing body, for now protected by ice bars, lies in an ill-equipped and mice-infested “dead house” in Faridabad.

The police personnel of Dabua Chowki, under Saran police station, arrested Rafiq, who owns Laxmi Placement Agency in Tughlaqabad. He had allegedly brought the girl from her village after taking the consent of a relative, according to the mother, who was unaware of her daughter’s presence in the city.

The police will also be investigating the role of the affluent family that hired the girl for house work in March allegedly for a meagre Rs 3500 despite the fact that she appeared to be a minor. The police have registered a case against both the placement agency owner and her employers under sections related to kidnapping, trafficking, child labour, abetment to suicide and Juvenile Justice Act applicable to minors. The mother also wants a case to be registered under the SC/ST Atrocities Act.

The mother, herself a domestic worker employed in Janakpuri, has alleged that her daughter was only 13 and a very strong person who could not have committed suicide. She has claimed that the child, who was going to school in her village, was brought to Delhi without informing her husband who was taking care of the children while she worked in the capital.

The mother has, meanwhile, expressed shock to learn that a postmortem had already been conducted without her permission and the report declared it to be an ordinary death due to hanging, making it a case of suicide. She has now sought a fresh post-mortem.

Compounding the tragedy is the growing concern over the decomposing body and desperate search for space for burial. Social workers from NGO Shakti Vahini were seen frantically reaching out to different Christian institutions as they tried to seek space in a cemetery. “We were shocked when confronted by the demand for a certificate to show that she was a Catholic Christian before she could get burial space. When we told them that we did not have any such document and explained the situation, we were turned away,” said Rishikant of the NGO.

Similar resistance to burying a minor domestic worker from Jharkhand was witnessed last year and had led the NCPCR to issue directions wherein a list of churches and pastors in Delhi was drawn up for such cases. On Saturday too former NCPCR member Vinod Tikoo reached out to YMCA to intervene in the matter and resolve the crisis.

Girl trafficked from Bengal rescued

UTTAR PRADESH TRAFFICKING CASEPUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

A 15-year-old girl trafficked from Murshidabad district of West Bengal was rescued from a village in Shahjahanpur district in Uttar Pradesh on Friday.

The rescue operation was jointly conducted by the police forces of West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh along with NGO Shakti Vahini. According to the police, the minor girl was trafficked by one Murjina (40) who sold her as a “bride” to a resident of the Uttar Pradesh village.

“The alleged trafficker, a resident of Sardarpara of Murshidabad district, approached the girl and asked if she wanted to learn shakha pola , traditional bangles worn by married Bengali women. Both became friends and nearly a week later, Murjina convinced her to visit her house, where she offered her food that made her unconscious. On the same day she was taken to Delhi by train,” the police said.

In the Capital, Murjina, a factory worker in Delhi, used to take the victim with her to the workplace so that she could not escape.

“After 10/12 days the girl was handed over to a man who married her forcefully. She was then confined in his house in a remote Uttar Pradesh village, from where she was rescued,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini.

The police were tipped-off about her whereabouts in the Mundka area of Delhi. The West Bengal police team reached Delhi and coordinated with the Shakti Vahini team. A raid was conducted in Mundka on Friday and a person Santosh was detained. He, a cousin of the alleged trafficker, confessed that the girl was confined in the U.P. village.

The police and the NGO team rushed to Shahjahanpur district and contacted the local police. With their assistance the girl was rescued. She was then brought to Delhi by the police team, which was accompanied by her father. “The girl will be produced before the Child Welfare Committee, Murshidabad. As per the direction of the Child Welfare Committee she will be given care and protection,” the police said.

Hasi and Khushi

EI SAMAY 7

EI SAMAY WEST BENGAL

This is a story of two sisters Hasi and Khushi, who lived at Rajshahi, in Bangladesh. Their father had passed away, and mother was working in Muscat. So their grandparents were the only family that they had. Hasi had studied till class X, though Khushi’s education was cut off due to financial problems, when she was in class VII. Although life was difficult, the four of them were somehow able to keep their body and soul together.

One day, Hasi and Khushi were invited to their elder sister’s place, which was at quite a distance from their village. On their way, they met a man who introduced himself as Raju. He was quite friendly, and did not seem unnatural. Although a stranger, there began to grow a bond of friendship especially between Hasi and Raju. Within a few hours, the friendship began to change into love. They exchanged phone numbers and departed for the time being. On their way back from sister’s place, once again they ran into Raju, and once again they walked the rest of the way together, laughing and chatting.

Quite a few months have passed after that. One day Raju proposes marriage to Hasi, and asks her to meet him at a relative’s house. He tells her his decision of completing the legal procedures for marriage that day itself. Hasi agrees, and decides to leave her house without letting anyone know. However, Khushi comes to know of it and insists that she Hasi should take her with her. Finally, they reach the place, but due to some ‘unusual problem’ the registry does not take place. So the two sisters return home, fruitlessly.

A few days later, Raju informs Hasi that he has got a job in India, and that both of them will have to stay in India after marriage. Hasi does not refuse the offer, because her love cannot be limited by geographical boundaries. With the dream of a new family in her eyes, she leaves her motherland and comes to India, along with her younger sister.

They have food together, following which they are served with a rose-scented drink; it intoxicates them and they fall asleep. On waking up, they find that they have been brought to the Indian side of the border, to a place which they later come to know as Budhwar Peth: a place in Pune, equivalent to the G. B. Road in Delhi.

Pune is one of those prominent places in Western India, where human trafficking ismost active. There are more than 5ooo sex workers in Budhwar Peth. Most of these residents had, at some point of time, been trafficked to this place, and many of them have accepted their job at the brothels as their fate. Unlike G. B. Road, in Budhwar Peth bodily transactions take place even in broad ay light. If one moves through this busy locality, one can almost always find women standing in rich make-ups and attractive dresses. Many of them had been brought here from the same place that Hasi and Khushi belonged to.

The police, however, are not at all surprised. “We have often raided the brothels at Budhwar Peth”, notes officer Bhanupratap Bargey. He also reports that almost 70% of the girls are trafficked from Bangladesh and returning them to their homeland after being rescued, becomes problematic for the police. This is because, it then becomes an inter-national affair, added to which are many legal hurdles, overcoming which is quite difficult for these girls. The rest of the girls are brought from the different district of West Bengal.

There is also the barrier of language that the girls have to face. They can scarcely speak in Marathi, English or Hindi. Their language is born out of their native soil in Bangladesh. As a result they are unable to communicate their stories of torture to the police. Sometimes however, things are made easy through the involvement of an interpreter.

But Hasi and Khushi could speak in rough Hindi, so they did not have to face too much problem in communicating themselves. Nevertheless, Hasi and khushi were not kept together. They were rescued from two different brothels. The police found Khushi from the brothel where they expected to find Hasi. Along with her, were about 5 more Bangladeshi girls. Hasi was rescued from another brothel 2 days after her sister was found.

Initially they were residing at a Government-run home in Pune, but then they went back to their family. The case is under trial; Raju has been arrested.

Why is Pune witnessing such an increase in this business?

Officer Bargey says, “Many IT companies and other organisations are budding here. As a result, young people often stay here, alone, for the sake of their jobs”. They are the target customers of this trade. Apart from this, there is the hunger for easy money and glamour. So there are many such people, who accept it when they get a taste of the flesh trade. “But the greatest problem is a lack of co-ordination at the national level”, says Bargey. So, this organised crime is proliferating. He also reported that 27 organisations of flesh trade have been closed down, their licence have been cancelled for being involved in trafficking. This is probably the first state to have acted with such measures.

Surrounded by the Sahyadris, Pune is dotted with several small, big, and medium-sized hotels. There are also massage parlours with people moving in and out constantly. The amount that they charge for 20minutes of massage is Rs. 5000. Hotel rooms are booked for the customers, where girls in miniskirts and strapless tops wait. The rule is that one has to take off his shirt before entering the room for it takes some time to do that, and there is no time to be wasted inside the room. The watch and phone should also be kept outside, for they may act as sources of distraction. On agreement of this rule, one can have his partner to satisfy him for 20minutes.

This high-profile flesh trade is rampant in Mumbai and Pune. Vibha was one such girl who worked at a massage parlour, and was able to come out of the hell by the help of her client. She was studying in class XI, when a relative of her introduced her to a person offering a good ‘job’. At that time her family was in need of money. So she accepted the job, and was taken to the parlour. Everyday clients came into the room and she had to satisfy them. 5000 rupees for 20minutes, 70% of which had to be given to the parlour owner. “there was a man who used to come almost everyday”, says Vibha. One day she told him everything. “I don’t know what he was thinking, but within two days, the police came with the NGO workers and brought me away.” Vibha has taken a paramedical course after that, and is presently working as a nurse.

Police raids are not uncommon in these hotels and parlours. They come and go empty-handed because the parlour authorities are informed beforehand. Hence, all the new girls are taken out of sight before the police reach the place. So naturally, the police are very worried about this issue. But side-by-side, they are also happy because the people of Pune are aware of the trafficking activities. They cooperate with the police and often inform them if they find anything unnatural going on, or if they see unknown faces in the locality. The police have been able to save quite a few girls because of public help. The anti-trafficking unit of Maharashtra and the police organise awareness programmes on a regular basis.

The scenario with respect to rehabilitation is also far better in Pune than it is in the rest of the country. Some of the organisations like the Rescue Foundation and the Vanchit Vikas run rehabilitation homes, where they keep the girls after rescuing them. The girls are taught to sew, make papads, soft toys, jewelleries and such other works here. The government homes are not far behind either. Many of the residents of these homes are happy, and through learning of different works, they become self-dependent.

The other side of the story…

I was waiting to cross the Ferguson College Road; packs of bikes continued to run on and obstruct my path as well as vision. Suddenly, my eyes fell upon one of the bikers: a young boy of about 19, clad in perfectly clean garments. He was wearing a white band around his wrist, and was fidgeting with it in such a manner that is bound to attract one’s attention. I felt that this might be a new way to impress girls.

My suspiscion was not entirely wrong. He was trying to impress girls, but not in the common way that men do. He was a male escort, or gigolo. This is also an active trade in Pune. The police claim that this is also associated with trafficking. Boys of 17-18years of age are trafficked and trained in the job, after which they are made to work. Statistics reports indicate that the demand for male escorts is also quite high, nor is Rs.1000-1500 for half-an-hour a bad payment.

I came to know one such story from the police. It is about a boy of 19 years, with a well-built physique. But he was poor. Through acquaintance, he came to know that he was eligible to get an offer in the film industry. He would be trained accordingly, and might even get a chance to work with Aamir and Shah Rukh. The offer was lucrative enough for him to set his foot into the trap. But he came to realise what his job was after some days: he was a male escort. However, in the end, he was able to come out of the trap and return to his previous life.

This is not a singular incident; such instances are common in the country. According to the police, the awareness that people have regarding the trafficking and trading of women is absent in the case of men. So rescuing them is much more difficult than rescuing the girls. I came to know that those men on bikes, wearing white bands are mostly gigolos. They prepare themselves in such a way that they become noticeable. The bands are a feature from which others can recognise them. The only diffrence with their female counterparts is that they work in the afternoon, when the man of the house is absent. There are women who also call for male escorts ‘only to enjoy’.

Human trafficking -A Deep Rooted Disease

EI SAMAY 4

PUBLISHED IN EI SAMAY

Just like cancer, the roots of this disease too have reached even the remotest areas. Like the deadly disease, human trafficking too has already ensnared almost the entire society. Men and women are involved in this and therefore legally it is termed as an organised crime.

Take Chandu for example. This person hailing from Rohini in Delhi was once actively involved with the trafficking gang and has even spent a year in jail. Now he earns his living by assisting masons in construction works.

 “What had led you to such an occupation?” he was asked.

“The money, the huge sum paid as commission was so lucrative!” confessed Chandu.

“What mount were you paid?” I asked

What Chandu said was indeed overwhelming. Being a small fry the rate was 10 to 12 thousand per ‘piece’. At least 10 pieces were to be supplied each year. So, that made up at least a lac annually. Bigger agents earn even upto 5 lacs a year!’

Once, while on a supplying assignment Chandu was caught red-handed by the Delhi Police. Chandu was waiting at the station for the arrival of the North-East Express. Two girls of around fifteen were being smuggled from Assam. The Train arrived in time. A middle-aged woman alighted with the two girls. Chandu came near to them.

Having had prior information, policemen too were on their look-out. Being dressed in casuals, they had blended with the crowds. Just as Chandu was about to get hold of the girls, a voice nearby shouted, ‘hands up!’ the officers of Delhi Police Crime Branch took Chandu and two girls into their custody. The girls were thus saved from sinking into the unfathomable depths of the pool of darkness.

This is not just a single story. In Delhi, recovery is less frequent than the loss in the gloom. Almost everyday girls from different parts of the country are being smuggled to the capital for flesh trade. Being poor, they are usually promised jobs and finally delivered to the brothels, beggar syndicates and dance bars and so on. Sometimes little boys are also brought as bonded labour.

What happened to Chandu after he was caught? Trial took six months and Chandu was sentenced to one year imprisonment.

On being asked if he has really shunned the gang, Chandu claimed that he has. I asked him further, “Didn’t you ever feel bad?” “it is a risky trade” came his prompt reply, “but why should I feel bad? All I know is money. My work was only delivering the girls to their destinations.”

People like Chandu are doing this for money. But why are they falling prey to this gang?

Poverty is one of the prime causes behind this, and this fact was clear from that 14-year-old’s statement. This orphan girl was staying with her maternal aunt. Her only means of livelihood was collecting wood from the forest and supplying them to far flung shops. One day, a man arrived in her village. He was apparently looking for house maids for working in Delhi. The maid would be paid Rs. 1600 per month. Thi girl thought that this could mean an end to their deplorable conditions. Thus, her aunt decided to send her with him. First three months were just perfect. She was staying with the trafficker’s family.

One day two elderly women arrived at the trafficker’s Delhi residence. They were the brothel owners of G. B. Road. The 14-year old overheard them talking in hushed voices about a deal. She sensed some danger and started to cry. She wanted to go back home.

Instead of taking her back, they took her to a hotel. The first night was okay. The next day those two elderly women came back. Soon after they left, the police raided the place. The hotel manager informed the girl, that she was in huge danger.

Later on that manager told, ‘for some reason, I had grown some affection towards her. I had given her some money and told her to escape. But she couldn’t.” Those two elderly women were keeping a vigilant eye on her. So, as soon as she crossed the road, she was caught by them. Since then, kotha no. 41 has been her address.

In the first night itself, the girl had to satisfy 4 customers. She was an adolescent. But her body was not ready to face such assaults and injuries. So she fell ill. Doctors told that her private parts were mutilated. If she was forced to any more physical activities, it could cause her death. The Kotha owner was shaken. She gave 2 months leave to her.

Later on, the girl got to know that those four men who had coveted her body were police officials. So the entente between the brothel owners and the police was pretty clear. As a result, these heinous crimes often go unnoticed. Even when they are notified no one acts upon it. So, the traffickers are gaining more and more courage over the days, believes Kailash Satyarthi of Bachpan Banchao Andolan. The head of the organisation said, ‘police has the complete details of trafficking: Source to destination. But they do nothing, especially in the lower rung.’

There is no way to break the viscous circle. Laws are made on paper, and they remain there. For instance, even though it is mandatory to take FIRs, police is still taking GD. So, there is no scope for taking the case further. So, the lost girls never come back.

Running parallel to this is the story of people like Pappu. He works for beggar syndicate. He was not ready to show his face, but was ready to talk to the media. I asked him, ‘Didn’t you fear?’, he answered, ‘No, Madam, why should I? I have to have Roti-Sabji. Police knows everything, but they are happy with the Hafta system. So I have no problem at all!’

Pappu studied till 9th standard. He couldn’t even manage a petty job. Each day his parents used to taunt him due to his joblessness. So, he was ready to do anything, just anything.

Suddenly he came across Guruji of Indrapuri. He is the kingpin of the syndicate. He told, if Pappu could supply kids for begging, he would be getting 50 thousand per month. Just to do away with the tag of unemployment, Pappu started working for the syndicate. Now the ‘competent’ Pappu has become the closest aide of Guruji.

‘Didn’t you feel that what you are doing is not right?’ Pappu’s defended, ‘Will the government provide me with a regular job of 9-5? Will it provide food? Madamji, who likes this kind of nasty works? But I have wife and kids at home…’. So there are some people like Pappu, who know that the job is not a good one, yet he cannot leave this field for the he has mouths to feed at home.

So, there is a very close proximity between the trafficked and traffickers. It is often out of compulsion, that human beings are objectifying their own species. And lawkeepers too are sometimes working in unlawful ways.

What will be the future of that 14-year old? Where will she go? On the other hand, what else could Pappu have done?

There are several questions, but no answers. And we don’t know who can provide the answers.

Woman gets 10 years in jail for trafficking, forcing girl into prostitution

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PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: Expressing serious concern over the rising “menace” of human trafficking in the country, a trial court has urged Delhi Police to make “sincere efforts” to crack its whip on perpetrators of this trade.

The court made these observations while sentencing a woman to jail for 10 years for forcing a girl into prostitution after she was trafficked to the capital from a village in West Bengal. “The menace of human trafficking is on the rise and needs to be curbed. It requires sincere efforts by the police, failing which many other victims of human trafficking are likely to meet the same fate, as the victim in the present case,” said additional sessions judge Kaveri Baweja while convicting Padma under sections of Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act and wrongfully confining or keeping an abducted person.

While holding Padma guilty, the court pulled up the police for failing to arrest two men, who allegedly brought the victim from her native village in West Bengal to the capital in 2010. “It may also be pertinent to mention that as per the chargesheet, no efforts appear to have been made by the investigating agency to apprehend the two boys, who allegedly brought the victim to Delhi from her native village in West Bengal,” the court said.

While directing that a copy of the order be sent to the DCP, the court directed him to “look into the matter and ensure that officials functioning under him make all possible endeavours to apprehend offenders who get away by committing this heinous crime of human trafficking”. It also sought a compliance report on the same from the police.

The girl was rescued from a brothel on GB Road after a raid on August 6, 2010. The raid was conducted after the victim’s mother lodged a case. NGO Shakti Vahini was also called to the spot and the complaint of the victim was recorded.

Even as the convict sought leniency, the court trashed her plea saying, “the convict, in total disregard for the dignity of the victim, subjected her to forceful sexual intercourse and compelled her to do the work of prostitution against her will…The allegations do not, in my opinion, call for any kind of leniency towards her,” the judge said.