The marriage bazaar: How female foeticide has made bride trade a roaring business

DANISH RAZA IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

They talk about her in whispers. “Don’t tell her that I gave you directions to her house,” a local woman warns this reporter as she points out the two-storey house of Kamla, notorious in her neighbourhood, an upmarket residential colony in Haryana’s Jind district, for purchasing brides from distant states for the local bachelors in the region. Kamla is courteous but wary. She is plump and short. Dressed in a purple salwar-kameez and black overcoat, she asks her family members to leave the room while she talks to us. When she begins to speak, she gives us an unnerving stare. “Who told you that I arrange such marriages?”she inquires, rolling her eyes.

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The trade in brides is flourishing in north-west India. Skewed child sex ratios, and a decrease in the size of land holdings per family has meant that local men are hardly seen as good matches here. They are then forced to look for options, outside the state. Women such as Kamla network with brokers and agents in different states to cater to the demand for brides.

“The problem is so acute that those demanding reservation in government jobs for the predominant Jat community in Haryana tell their followers that without jobs, they will stay unmarried,”says Savita Bairwal, state joint secretary, All India Democratic Women’s Association. According to UNICEF, 80% of districts in India have recorded a declining sex ratio since 1991. ‘Despite these horrific numbers, foetal sex determination and sex selective abortions by unethical medical professionals has today grown into a Rs. 1,000 crore industry,’ notes the agency.

While campaigning for the latest assembly polls in Haryana, BJP leader OP Dhankar said at a rally in Jind that if voted to power, he would bring brides from Bihar for men in the state who are unable to find a suitable match. “Making the BJP strong also means that youths who are roaming without brides will get one,” he said.

Posing as a broker for families seeking wives for their sons, we met with four such traffickers in the Jind and Hisar districts of Haryana to understand the scale, the modus operandi and the money involved in the business of brides.

While some operate in the garb of registered marriage bureaus, most of them are discreet and run their business on word of mouth. They talk business strictly to people within their network.

Most of the deals are done over the phone along with regular visits to source areas in states such as Assam, Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Nepal. They charge around Rs. 50,000 to two lakh depending on the girl’s age and features. The money is divided among the middlemen between source and destination.

Depending on the risks involved, you can get a girl with all her documents in place or none at all and then decide if you would want to continue the marriage. Or sell her.

‘options are many’

Around 13 years ago, Balram, who goes by his first name, visited Tripura’s capital, Agartala, with one of his friends in Dabra village, Hisar. He got married there and since then, has made 50 odd trips to the north eastern state with his wife, Tanuja.

“I have brought 104 girls from Tripura in the past 12 years,” claims Balraj, adding, “Tell me whenever you want to visit. There will be 20-25 girls sitting in a room. You will have many options to choose from.”

Tanuja, a class eight-pass-out, now in her late 30s, handles their business and all its nitty-gritties, attending to customers in Haryana, exchanging phone numbers, maintaining a strong network with agents in the source region and arranging for their travel.

The couple’s estimate is that traffickers have brought around 5,000 girls from Tripura to Haryana and adjoining Punjab. “We are not the only ones doing it. Like my wife, there are numerous women who buy brides from their native states,” he says.

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The return journey to Tripura will take a week and we will have to bear all the expenses, says Tanuja. “The girls’ families are so poor that they will not be able to host you properly. You will have to bear the expenses of your stay there,” she tells us.

The couple also source girls from Tezpur, Assam. They show us a girl from Tezpur. She has been living with them for around 15 days. “Look at her and let us know if you have a prospective groom for her,” he says.

He does not discuss money with us; not even a rough estimate. For him to tell us rates, he says, we will first have to show him the men who we represent, to strike the deal.

‘there will be a proper marriage ceremony’

Doh number kee bahut hain…jitni chahe le le (There are many fakes here….take as many girls as you want),” says Ajay, a bride- trafficker in Jind’s Malsari Kheda village, referring to girls who run away within a couple of days of getting married. “If you want one actually for marriage, you will have to give me time,” says Ajay, who sources girls from Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Bihar and adjoining state of Jharkhand.

He is upset as one of his main suppliers of brides- a women broker in Panipat with contacts in Bihar’s Gaya district- has quit the trade. Yet, he tries his luck and makes a phone call to her and asks her to give it a second thought. She does not budge and hangs up on him.

His other source, an agent in Ghaziabad, has hiked his rates. The last time Ajay spoke with him, he says, he demanded Rs. 1.5 lakh. “What will I earn if I give him that much? Greed has screwed his brain,” fumes Ajay.

We are told that at least five bride- traffickers are active in this part of Haryana. Each of them source potential brides from different states so that there is no competition. Dharamveer deals in girls from Uttarakhand, Inder Singh procures them from Assam and Radhe Shyam has a solid network in Jharkhand.

“This is why you will find roughly 20 to 50 such girls from almost every neighboring village,” says a villager who did not want to be named.

Currently, Ajay’s only source in the region is a headmaster in a government school in the nearby village. “A Bihari girl will cost you Rs. 70,000. You will have to pay almost double the price for a girl from Himachal Pradesh,” says Ajay.

Despite making more than ten visits to Bihar, Ajay says, he would not want to deal directly with families who sell off their girls to fight poverty. “The day I try to bypass brokers, they will stop my access and ensure that I stop getting girls,” he says. Also, sourcing brides through agents is safer because the agents take care of all legal issues bound to arise in the source area. “That is the best part. There will be a proper marriage ceremony as per your religion,” he says.

‘my trade is bound to thrive’

Subhash, a 35 year-old wrestling enthusiast in Kaimri, a hamlet in Hisar, says it’s not about the money. He runs a flour mill and a grocery shop in the neighbourhood. The rear entrance of his mud house overlooks his farm-land. “I have everything by God’s grace,” he says. Around 12 years ago, he  was diagnosed with diabetes and has been grappling with weight loss since then. “I don’t travel a lot now,” he says. To add to his income, Subhash developed, what he calls a ‘side business’.

“How many girls do you want? I have ‘clean’, unmarried girls from Assam and Chhattisgarh. They are from poor families. You will have to pay them money. I will take my share too. This is how it works,” explains Subhash, who fits into one’s stereotype of a man from rural Haryana – tall, well-built and ear-ringed.

Assamese girls, he says, find it difficult to adjust in Haryana as they face language issues. As alternatives, he suggests girls from Rajasthan’s Alwar district, Lucknow and Ghaziabad.

Noticing that Subhash is opening up to us in the very first meeting, his wife interrupts saying he just facilitates marriages and does not trade in girls.

Subhash shuts her up and asks her to attend to household chores.

When we stress on fair complexion and ‘pretty’ features, he mentions Nepal. “We have the most beautiful kids. They are up for grabs,” he says. Regarding the costs involved, Subhash says it all depends on the situation when the deal is struck. “It all happens within minutes,” he says.

To keep the police at bay, traders have started getting such marriages registered in courts. It is not a pre-condition though. “You can take the girl’s thumb impression on a blank paper,” he says with a shrug.

Subhash says his trade is only going to flourish in the years to come as land holdings will keep multiplying and boys here find it extremely difficult to get married if they don’t have enough land. The only option before them is to get girls from outside. “The breed which we get from such alliances will not be good. But if start saying no to girls from outside, all our boys will remain bachelors. Therefore, we cannot help it,” says Subhash.

‘the returns have to be really good’

Kamla wants to take over the business from her boss, Pandey ji. A resident of Panipat district, he has been arranging girls for her for the past seven years. “If a deal is done in Rs. 1 lakh, he takes Rs. 70,000. Saara paisa wahi khaa leta hai (he takes the major chunk of the profit),” cusses Kamla.

Through him, she is in touch with brokers dealing in girls from Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh) and Himachal Pradesh. One has to travel to these states to get brides she says. “If you want to see the girls here in Haryana or Delhi, it will cost Rs. 10,000 extra. And if, on the way there is a police case, you will have to pay for that too.”

The morning we met her, Kamla had returned from her five-day visit to Himachal Pradesh.  But she says she operates through the phone and does not travel. She has another office in Faridabad, one of the satellite towns in the National Capital Region, adjoining Delhi.

She dials Pandey ji’s  number and insists we talk to him for clarity. “System samajh yaar (Understand the system, dear)” she says. He is busy and asks her to call later in the day. She wouldn’t mind the easy money and asks us for business ideas which she could explore. “Do not worry about the police and civic agencies. I have my people in all those offices. That’s not an issue. But the returns have to be really good,” she says.

We wind up soon as she is late for an appointment.

Before that, she asks us for the second time if we are really meeting her with the purpose of buying brides and wants to be sure that its not a trap. “Tum CID waaley toh nahi ho na? (you people are not from the CID, right?),” she says.

When convinced, she makes us an offer. “I have two girls from Chhattisgarh  here in Rohtak for the past one week. Let me know if you want to get it done in a day or two,” she says.

Kamla claims to know almost all major traffickers in Haryana and Punjab. She wants us to be cautious about them and is eager to know who all we met in Jind and elsewhere. She tips us off about a Hisar fixer who, she says, is a fraudster. “There are all kinds of people in this business. I am telling you as a well-wisher,” she says.

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THE PICTURE AND THE STORY HAS BEEN PUBLISHED IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES DATED 28/12/2014.

Chhattisgarh’s own ‘Mardani’ police officer who bust child trafficking rings in Delhi

mallikaBY RASHMI DROLIA PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

RAIPUR: She may not be a decorated encounter cop or a trained undercover agent, but she displayed unusual grit and gumption to bust organised trafficking rings at vulnerable patches of Delhi to earn the sobriquet of Chhattisgarh’s ‘Mardani’. After nabbing 15 traffickers and rescuing 20 missing children from Delhi’s hellholes, she’s become a blockbuster star in the state.

In a cat-and-mouse chase with entrenched child traffickers and prostitution kingpins, it was a mindboggling race through maze of accomplices for sub-inspector Mallika Banerjee of the anti-human trafficking cell. And she played a role of a super cop in a bigger-than-life rerun of the Bollywood thriller Mardani in real life.

Disguised as salesgirl, selling body massagers on the street, facing life threats and spurning big bribe money to withdraw investigation, SI Mallika Banerjee, 30, struggled to meet Supreme Court deadline to trace missing children. When she began her Mission Delhi, she only had a tip-off. She shares with TOI how a small rescue operation turned into a month-long gruelling mission.

Mission Delhi

“On reaching Delhi on November 13 with a five-member team, I had to raid placement agencies of Nirmala and Guddu at Motinagar and Shakurpur. As it was part of protocol to conduct simultaneous raids, we needed to do recce, gather intelligence and keep vigil outside their offices,” Mallika said.

Meanwhile, kingpin Guddu got a wind of raids and released two kids of Bagbahar region and sent them back with four agents. She suspected involvement of Delhi police for tipping off Guddu on raids. But Mallika was constantly keeping watch and kept Jashpur SP, Jitendra Meena in the loop. “We rescued two kids and arrested four agents from a train on Ambikapur-Sitapur stretch.”

While Nirmala was an easy catch, documents seized from her office revealed that children were sold for Rs 30000-35000 with monthly fixed payment of Rs 5000.

Guddu’s Arrest

From Guddu’s office, Mallika rescued a 12-year-old girl of Jharkhand who was locked in a dank room. Surveillance of Guddu’s phone showed he was in Champaran in Bihar. He had wriggled out of clutches of police .

“It was 12.40 am when I received an anonymous threat call, asking me to leave Delhi. ‘Madam, aap muje nahi jante, meri pahunch mantriyon tak hai. Mahila ho, nikal lo, warna aapke saath kya hoga aap soch nahi sakti’ (You have no idea I am in touch with influential persons and politicians, better leave the place or be ready for the worst),” the caller said.

Mallika was unfazed, persistent. She called Guddu again and finally the call went through. She persuaded him to meet her and help find few missing children, assuring him he won’t be touched. Guddu returned from his Bihar hideout and called her. They were to meet at a parking lot at Daryaganj.

Mallika’s team was prepared in civil dress when Guddu’s aide approached Mallika and said “Guddu is innocent, stop chasing him.” Guddu suddenly appeared from shadows with a cash-loaded briefcase and offered Rs 10 lakh. “Take this and leave. I will handle other senior officers,” Guddu told Mallika. The cops in civvies pounced upon him and arrested him. Guddu had been trafficking children from several states since 2001.

Sales Girl Disguise

Hunting down Hamida, another trafficker, was the toughest. Mallika disguised as a sales girl, sold body massagers at Aman Vihar area for five days. She gathered inputs from households and finally zeroed in on Hamida’s hideout.

“I made excuses, asked for water to get inside her home and arrested her with documents of girls trafficked. Several arrests followed,” said Mallika. It was first experience for this woman officer in tough situations, saying she suddenly felt more connected to those innocent kids.

Jashpur superintendent of police Jitendra Meena said, “Meticulous planning, multiple recces and technical support were required. The operation was closely monitored by us and every success boosted team’s confidence.”

Delhi based NGO Shakti Vahini that supported the mission right from first day said, “AHTU in Chhattisgarh led by ADG Rajeev Srivastava and OSD PN Tiwari certainly create a forward impact on action against child trafficking, as they assure proper training to officials like Mallika who perform courageously even in odd situations.”

BANGLADESH MINOR AMONG TWO RESCUED IN FARIDABAD

Bangladesh CaseTribune News Service Faridabad, December 5

Two minor girls reportedly brought to Faridabad some days ago and allegedly sold for Rs 30,000 to a resident as domestic helpers have been rescued. The girls, one of whom is a Bangladeshi national and the other is from West Bengal, have been lodged at a protection home.The girls, aged around 14 years, were allegedly sold as housemaids by a trafficker to the owner of a house in sector 16 here recently. They managed to escape from the house on Wednesday night.

While they reportedly tried to hide behind a vehicle parked near the main market, taxi driver Raju spotted them and asked them about their identity. Raju informed NGO Shakti Vahini whose representatives took the girls to the police station where their statement was recorded. While one of them said she was brought here from West Bengal’s 24 Parganas district on the promise of suitable employment, the other was from a village near the Bangladesh border.

Her exact address is yet to be ascertained.“We have traced the parents of the girl who is from West Bengal and have asked them to come here to get their daughter’s custody,” said Rishikant of Shakti Vahini. Stating that Childline, another NGO, had also played a vital role in the girls’ rescue, he said both would stay at a protection home till their repatriation.

A medical test has been ordered to detect the correct age of both girls. The district child welfare committee has asked the police to lodge a FIR.Though this is perhaps the first such case this year in the district, two victims of trafficking – including a 10-year-old girl — were rescued from Rohtak and Faridabad last December. At least four other trafficked victims were rescued from other parts of the state in the past year.

INDIA’S BRIDE TRAFFICKING FUELLED BY SKEWED SEX RATIOS

A brother from West Bengal district of Dinajpur after a long search was able to rescue his sister who was trafficked for forced Marriage in Uttar Pradesh

A brother from West Bengal district of Dinajpur after a long search was able to rescue his sister who was trafficked for forced Marriage in Uttar Pradesh

PUBLISHED IN THE GUARDIAN-BY ANU ANAND

Business in brides is booming in north-west India as a result of female foeticide, but the women bought and sold are often trapped in lives of slavery and abuse

Just 90 minutes’ drive from the thriving city of Gurgaon, near Delhi, a business hub in Indiaand home to corporate giants Google and Microsoft, Hari Singh Yadav, landowner, farmer and eldest of seven brothers sits outside his front door and bemoans his bachelor status.

“There are not enough girls from my caste in our village, and I’m already 34 years old, so now no one wants to marry me,” he says. Only three of his brothers have found wives. “Here, if you don’t marry, people shun you. I want to go to [the southern city of] Hyderabad and get a wife but it will cost $1,500. Will you loan it to me?”

In the north-west of India, the business in brides is booming. Skewed sex ratios in states including Haryana,where there are only 830 girls for every 1,000 boys(pdf) and young women being lured away to jobs in India’s booming cities, means men like Yadav are increasingly left with few options when it comes to finding a wife.

“Among land-owning castes in rural areas, female foeticide is rampant because people bitterly oppose laws which say girls should inherit equally,” said Reena Kukreja, who teaches gender studies at Queens University in Ontario, Canada. “So they make sure daughters are never born.”

Nearly 50 years after the introduction of ultrasound technology, which campaigners say has led to the sex-selective termination of up to 10 million healthy female foetuses, families in search of wives are increasingly turning to traffickers to counter their sons’ diminishing marriage prospects.

There are no official statistics on trafficked and migrant brides in India, but according to a survey conducted across 1,300 villages in Haryana and Rajasthan by Queens University, there has been a 30% increase over the past three years in the numbers of women lured or coerced into marriage.

The UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has identified organised bride trafficking rings increasingly operating in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, where gender ratios are among the least balanced in the country. A 2013 UNODC report (pdf) cites a survey of 92 villages in Haryana which shows that in 10,000 households, 9,000 married women had been bought from poor villages in other states.

The business of bride trafficking is proving so lucrative that local people are setting themselves up as dealers or brokers, sourcing women for families seeking partners for their sons.

Bashir, who refused to give his surname, is from Tijara in the north-western state of Rajasthan. He used to make his living harvesting crops or quarrying rocks. Now he supplements his meagre income by travelling to Assam twice a year – with his own purchased wife – to bring back brides for local village families.

“We tell them they’ll get good husbands here. We pay the families $70-100 [£45-65],” Bashir says, sitting outside his family home. “It’s a community service. We are poor, they are poor, so it’s a win-win situation.”

Yet the reality of these marriages for women bought and sold as brides is often a life of slavery and abuse. The UNODC says thousands of these women are raped, abused, used as domestic slaves and often eventually abandoned.

Sahiba was only 16 when a distant relative told her family in Assam that he could marry the poor teenager into a good home. He took her away, raped her twice and sold her as a bride to a family in Palwal, Haryana, 60km from the Indian capital Delhi. “I didn’t want to be raped again, so I went along with it,” she says. “And I thought it was a real marriage.”

She later discovered from her sister-in law that she had been bought for 13,500 rupees (£135) for her mentally ill husband, whom the family thought no one else would marry. “My blood began to boil and I decided to escape,” Sahiba says. “When I refused to sleep with my new husband, I was beaten and attacked with a knife. ‘We bought you,’ his family told me. ‘You have to obey.’”

Shafiq ur-Rehman is an activist and founder of Empower People, a charity that works with trafficked brides in 10 Indian states, including Haryana, where his offices have been set on fire and his employees shot at by locals. He says women who are bought and sold into marriage are often used as unpaid labourers. “It’s simple economics,” he says. “A local day labourer costs $140 for a season. But a girl only costs $100 for life. If it doesn’t work out, she can be resold and there’s no family nearby to help her. It’s no different from the former slave plantations of the US.”

Ghaushia Khan, 40, an activist, was sold into marriage in Haryana as a young woman and now provides legal aid to other trafficked brides. She says that, once sold, many women are considered worthless by the community they find themselves in. “In 1992, a [trafficked bride] in my neighbourhood was doused in kerosene and burnt alive,” Khan says. “Her skin began to peel off and I would hear her crying out, ‘please give me water’.”

Khan travels throughout Haryana trying to help these brides get access to legal support and assistance. She says few of the women she encounters are prepared to go to the police because they believe that, far from delivering justice, a complaint will leave them further isolated.

Some women, like Farida, have spent decades in villages far away from their families. Only 11 when, 20 years ago, she was sold to a 70-year-old man, her first experience of marriage was rape and violence. She gave birth to the first of seven children soon after. “That same day, I was ordered to get up and cook for everyone,” says Farida.

What is most painful, she says, is that her children have been taught to hate her. “My eldest son says to his grandmother, ‘Why don’t we sell her on? There are many others like her,’” she says. “What can I do? I don’t think I’ll ever see my sister again. I don’t even remember how to get back home.”

Others, like Sahiba, have managed to escape their marriages. Sahiba’s brother spent months tracking her down with the help of lawyers and activists with the Delhi-based Save the Childhood Movement. However, the chances of Sahiba getting any kind of justice or compensation are slim. Save the Childhood Movement estimates that, despite thousands of women being affected, there have been only two or three convictions a year for bride trafficking.

“There’s a very low conviction rate in cases of bride trafficking because the law is so fragmented,” says Rakesh Senger, an activist with the organisation. “One section deals with kidnapping, another with trafficking, another with rape, so cases usually took up to five years to prosecute. There is no inter-state police cooperation either, so it’s difficult to get victims to court to testify. However, with the new rape laws, we’re hopeful things will improve as cases have to be tried within a year.”

Ravi Kant, president of Shakti Vahini, one of India’s most high-profile anti-trafficking organisations, agrees. He says that, despite successfully bringing cases of forced labour – where they have prosecuted families for buying women from another state and forcing them into domestic servitude – they have persistently failed to bring cases of bride trafficking to court.

“We’ve tried to prosecute traffickers and men who’ve purchased wives in at least 20 different cases,” Kant says. “They stay in jail for two to three months, get bail and then either the prosecutor doesn’t actively pursue the case, or the victim never testifies because she’s afraid to face her tormentor again. The local police don’t see the accused as having committed any crime, so they don’t investigate properly, and they make no effort to cross state lines to bring victims to court.”

Sahiba’s future remains uncertain. She says that although she has been rescued, the end of her marriage means she can’t go home to her family. “I can’t go back because of the shame of leaving a husband,” she says.

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.

CHHATTISGARH’S MASTERMIND TRAFFICKER HELD IN DELHI, HAD THREATENED STATE WOMAN OFFICER TO STOP RAIDS

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PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh police camping in Delhi for two weeks to traffickers have arrested the mastermind, who is accused of trafficking of over 10,000 minors, mostly tribals, from Chhattisgarh Jharkhand and Assam. Shockingly, the state woman police official leading the team in raids was threatened of dire consequences if she continues the crackdown and also tried bribing her with Rs 10 lakh.

Calling it the biggest breakthrough, state police said that it was for the first time that 15 traffickers and sub-agents were arrested with rescue of 20 minors including boys in series of raids.

Arrested accused Guddu was wanted for 12 cases registered against him for abducting and trafficking of minor children from tribal Jashpur district and many FIRs were lodged against him in other states. Chhattisgarh police were trying to trace him from November 19 after raiding his Guddu placement agency and arresting four other traffickers from there.

Talking to TOI from Delhi, state police officer Mallika Banerjee who’s leading the raids, said that he used to run placement agencies with several other names to play safe and used to mention age above 18 years of all minors he appointed for domestic slavery.

Explaining about how challenging it was to get hold of him, Banerjee said that she was getting continuous threaten from him over phone. “Guddu used to call me midnight, threatening of returning to Chhattisgarh and stop raiding placement agencies. He threatened me of dire consequences claiming that he enjoyed considerable clout in the region. He also tried to lure me and bribe me with Rs 10 lakh to keep mum and return.”

Banerjee said that she was consistent in raids and continued attending his calls to get clue of his locations. “Then I challenged him to meet and discuss the deal on Monday evening. He has brought a briefcase of cash with him and persuaded me but I arrested him then and there,” the police officer said.

The team has seized 700 placement forms from his possession which indicates that there were several more children forced into domestic slavery in Delhi, Jammu, Panipat and parts of Punjab. “Guddu confessed that he was working since 2002 and has trafficked around 10,000 children from several states. We reached him through his sub-agents who were earlier arrested from Jashpur and Delhi. The kids trafficked through Guddu had accused him of beating and thrashing them forcing them to work,” Banerjee added.

Now, police will take him on remand to Chhattisgarh and investigate further based on statements of kids rescued.

Action by Chhattisgarh police in last few days comes in wake of tracing children gone missing between 2011 and May 2014 which turning into an anti-trafficking movement, led to arrest of 15 traffickers and rescue of several children. The chain has been linked and more such arrests are possible in next few days.

Condemning the act of threatening a police officer on duty, Delhi-based NGO Shakti Vahini assisting police in the operation said, “A separate case of threatening a police official on duty should be lodged against Guddu and intense investigation is needed to find out the number of girls he procured from different states.”