SUNDAR KHANAL IN MY REPUBLICA
KATHMANDU, May 13: Around two dozen Nepali girls, all minors, were rescued from a red-light area in in the Indian city of Pune in raids undertaken by Indian police Monday.
According to Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Shivajee at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Andhra Pradesh that collaborated with Pune city police to carry out the raids, seven Nepali minors have confirmed their addresses in Nepal. “They were handed over to Puna Rescue Foundation for counseling and protection,” he said. Indian police also arrested two Nepali nationals allegedly for trafficking, and said they have been identified as Rekha Das and Sheela Thapa. DIG Shivajee said the remaining minors, who seem to be Nepali nationals, are yet to confirm their addresses and have been undergoing counseling. “As they had been exploited and tortured continuously, they seem to be in a trauma still and would take time for proper communication with us,” he added. All Nepali girls rescued from the brothels in Budhwar Peth in Pune are under 21, and under Indian law this is considered underage in terms of foreign nationals. Shivajee, in a telephonic interview with myrepublica.com, urged the Nepal government to take initiative for the repatriation and rehabilitation of the victims.
Rishi Kant, a renowned social worker heading the NGO ´Shakti Vahini´ in India, said many Nepali girls and women are found to have been forced to work in brothels in Pune and other Indian cities and this was a serious issue. “We take this issue very seriously. Most of the Nepali women and girls seem to have been brought here by a wide ring of traffickers and in mos cases the victims seem to hail from poverty-stricken areas,” he added. He also urged the Nepal government to immediately send a team of officials to facilitate repatriation of the rescued minors and apprise themselves of the gravity of the problem. Kant said this is the first time ever that Nepali girls appear to have been brought from Nepal first to Andhra Pradesh and then to Pune. “This is the new modus operandi (MO) for girl-trafficking from Nepal to India,” he added.
Around 83 women including minors were rescued in the raids, DIG Shivajee said. The raids were carried out after a minor girl from Anantnagar district in Andhra Pradesh, who was forced into prostitution in Pune, managed to flee the brothel with the help of her mother. According to Indian police, most of the women rescued have been in Pune for more than four years. “We were informed that women in brothels here had been living a bonded life,” a police official was quoted as saying in a media report. In 2007, Indian police had raided brothels in Budhwar Peth and rescued around 30 girls. The police also arrested seven traffickers including two Nepali nationals during the raids and produced them in court. The court granted a transit remand for the traffickers and told the police to produce them at Anantpur Court by May 14.