Shri Rajnath Singh to inaugurate National Conference on Human Trafficking

Training on Anti Human Trafficking with Police Officials of Bareilly Zone,Uttar Pradesh  in Collaboration with Shakti Vahini

Training on Anti Human Trafficking with Police Officials of Bareilly Zone,Uttar Pradesh in Collaboration with Shakti Vahini

The Union Home Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh will inaugurate a National Conference on Human Trafficking, here on October 07, 2015. The conference is being organised by Ministry of Home Affairs along with key stakeholders like State nodal officers for human trafficking, officers of Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) set up in various districts, other stakeholder Ministries/Departments, NGOs and other experts in the field of Human Trafficking. The participants will discuss issues and challenges relating to Human Trafficking and ways and means to curb the menace more effectively.

Training on Anti Human Trafficking with Police Officials of Agra Zone,Uttar Pradesh  in Collaboration with Shakti Vahini

Training on Anti Human Trafficking with Police Officials of Agra Zone,Uttar Pradesh in Collaboration with Shakti Vahini

The Ministry of Home Affairs had advised all States/UTs to launch a sustained campaign titled ‘Operation Smile’ throughout the country for a month in January, 2015 to rescue the missing children and reunite them with their families. Encouraged by the response of this campaign, MHA rolled out another dedicated campaign titled ‘Operation Muskaan’ throughout the country in the month of July, 2015. A total of over 19,000 missing children were rescued during these two Operations.

The top performers of Operation Smile will be awarded during the Conference by the Union Home Minister.

Training on Anti Human Trafficking with Police Officials of GRP Lucknow  Zone,Uttar Pradesh  in Collaboration with Shakti Vahini

Training on Anti Human Trafficking with Police Officials of GRP Lucknow Zone,Uttar Pradesh in Collaboration with Shakti Vahini

New laws for trafficking victims

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NAMRATA VIJ AHUJA IN ASIAN AGE

Victims of trafficking may no longer have to depose in court to prove their cases as the government is considering allowing video conferencing as part of wide ranging reforms suggested by a high level committee which has given its suggestions to the Union home ministry .The definition of sexual exploitation under the law is also set to be tightened to include ‘’involuntary acts done under coercion and in absence of free will’’, extending the scope of the law to include such portrayal in the print and electronic media and Internet.

Three sub-panels formed by NALSA core committee headed by Supreme Court judge Justice A.K. Sikri and consisting of joint secretary in home ministry Alok Kumar had submitted their report which is now being studied by the ministries of home and women and child development for implementation.

While work has already begun in the WCD ministry to amend the Imm-oral Traffic (Prevention) Act to remove any gaps in the law, the MHA is working on other suggestions which also call for setting up an exclusive or specialised agency for investigating organised crime.

Pointing out that trafficking, which includes sexual exploitation to a large extent has become one of the largest organised crime in the country, a top MHA official said that a dedicated institutional structure is in the works to act as the nodal point for coordinating with the various agencies concerned, including the police and the legal authorities.

The WCD may act as the nodal body and may have its own dedicated agency to deal with such crimes, the official said adding that deliberations are going on the issue.

On the legal reforms, the ministry of home is in the process of consulting the law ministry to allow video-conferencing for all victims of human trafficking to ‘’isolate them from the traffickers’’ and increase the conviction rates.

“The video conferencing of all victims of human trafficking may be allowed from the nearest point made available by the probe agency and is expected to go a long way in allowing more and more victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation approach the police with their complaints and depose before the courts subsequently,” the official added.

Saudi diplomat case: The perils of being a domestic help in India

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BY GARGI GUPTA IN DNA TIMES

Millions of domestic workers, who help us work our jobs and parent our children, are often victims of modern-day slavery and trafficking. Our homes, in fact, are at the edge of India’s rich-poor divide, says Gargi Gupta as she looks beyond cases of violent abuse to examine the status of the invisible but vital workforce

In mid-September, around the time the media was raging against the brutal sexual assault of two Nepalese domestic workers by a Saudi Arab diplomat, another bit of news was tucked away in the inside pages of some Delhi newspapers. It was about a 12-year-old girl, employed as a domestic help in a Noida high-rise, who’d used a sari tied to the balcony grill to climb down from the 13th to 12th floor, in her desperation to flee her “employers”.

They would, she told the police, not let her leave the house, make her work all hours of the day, and give food just twice – tea in the morning and two chapattis in the evening; the bathroom was off limits, so she’d have to use the balcony.

Horrifying? Yes, but no more shocking than the condition of a 15-year-old girl from Jharkhand, who was rescued from Vasant Kunj, a middle-class neighbourhood in south Delhi, some years ago. She was found half-naked with knife and bite injuries and burn marks; her employer, a 50-year-old senior executive in an MNC, would beat her regularly and make her drink urine.

And then was the case of another minor girl from the northeast whose air hostess employer would lock her up for weeks on end when she flew abroad.

And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. While sensational cases of abuse and violent assault hit the national spotlight, what gets ignored is the daily exploitation of domestic help in urban Indian homes, the irregular work hours, lack of leave, poor pay, and worse, the lack of dignity. Indeed, how many times have you gone to a mall or a restaurant to find these young maids tagging along, holding heavy bags or minding the child, standing by as the family tucks into their meal? It is as if they’re invisible.

The government recently announced that it has prepared a draft national policy for domestic workers, which mandates a minimum monthly wage of Rs 9,000, mandatory leave, social security cover, a tripartite agreement involving the worker, the employer and the placement agency, but it’s still at the proposal stage — very far from becoming an actionable legal tool that will protect the domestic worker.

Bindu, a 22-year-old maid who works as a full-time domestic help in east Delhi, gets paid Rs5,500 a month — this works out to Rs.184 a day, far less than the minimum wage of Rs.385 a day for unskilled labour notified by the state government. The family she lives with has four members and Bindu cooks, looks after a four-year-old child and keeps the house clean. Though her employers don’t sting when it comes to food, “there’s just so much work that it is often two or three in the afternoon, that I get to eat lunch”, she says.

“I was ill this summer. I had diarrhoea and high fever. I would have recovered fast had I rested but where was the time? Madam had to go to work; the child had to be got back from school and fed, and a hundred little jobs to do in the house,” says her friend Vasudha. Vasudha was lucky – her employers took her to the doctor and paid for her treatment. They even took a few days leave when her health took a turn for the worse.

Bindu and Vasudha are lucky in other ways too – their employers do not grudge them a little time off every evening when they accompany their wards to the playground. “We are from the same area in north Bengal and belong to the same Oraon tribe,” Vasudha says smiling. “We chat a bit, compare our employers, our pay, what work we do, tell each other what happened through the day. It feels nice to speak in our own language.” They’ve also opened bank accounts back in Siliguri and get their employer to transfer the money direct into their accounts.

These days, Bindu and Vasudha are worried about Pinky, a girl from their part of the country who’s recently come to work in the same apartment complex. Pinky is not allowed to step out of the house. “Her employers say that we gossip and will spoil her. But she told us, when she sneaked out once, that they don’t give her proper food, only leftover daal and sabzi and that too after everyone has eaten,” says Bindu. “We are worried about her and have told her to speak to the agency that has brought her here if things get too bad.” But that too is an uncertain hope – after all, as Vasudha chips in with the wisdom of her six year’ work experience, “all the agency cares about is their commission. They don’t care about us”.

We Indians can’t do without domestic help – the entire motley of part-time bais who sweep and mop, cooks who whip up the daily daal-chawal and drivers who negotiate the chaotic traffic as we chat on the mobile. With the rise in double-income nuclear families in urban India, the demand for domestic help has risen by leaps and bounds in recent years. Numbers are hard to come by in this unregulated, grey sector, but a recent estimate by KPMG for the government’s National Skill Development Corporation estimates the domestic workforce in India to be six million strong in 2013, and projected to grow to 10.88 million by 2022.

Sushmita Dasgupta, a senior marketing executive who lives with her two children and parents in a Gurgaon high-rise, speaks for an entire generation of working women when she says, “I couldn’t do without my full-time domestic help. They are my lifeline. Who will look after my father-in-law, who is an invalid and has a separate diet and needs to be given his medicines on time? Who will meet my children at the school bus and give them lunch when they come home? Besides, I have a hectic schedule and get late coming the evening and have to frequently travel on work.”

Dasgupta has been procuring domestic help from a “placement” agency in Delhi for the past five years — she has two maids, both in their late teens-early twenties, and pays them Rs.10,000 each; of this, Rs.7,000 goes to the girls and Rs.3,000 to the agency. But it hasn’t been easy for her as well. “None of the maids are trained when they come. I’ve had some girls coming straight from the village – one didn’t even know how to read the time while another was so homesick she ran away, and I spent a few sleepless nights until she was located. Many don’t know how to put on the gas, much less use the microwave or washing machine. Their personal hygiene is so poor that I insist that they first have a bath, wash their hair with anti-lice shampoo and clean their clothes properly with detergent.”

Few of us think of the issue in these terms, but in reality our homes are poised on the edge of India’s rich-poor divide, the convergent point of a great wave of migration, mostly of women, taking place from the rural remote interiors of the country, by desperately poor hordes untouched by the benefits of government development programmes, and into the cities where they hope to make their fortune.

At the forefront of this migration is a network of “placement agencies” with, at one end, local toughs who act as recruiting agents in the villages and, on the other, grungy rooms located in crowded, rundown localities of cities where these girls are brought to. “The families are promised either that the girl will be made to study or that the work will be veryhalka-pulka – baccha dekhna hoga,” says Rishikant of Shankti Vahini, an NGO in Delhi that works with the police to rescue these girls. “The parents, often, don’t care. The promise of money, often, is as low as Rs.3,000.”

The employers, says Rishikant, are equally to blame. “These placement agencies have no legal standing. Most of them give a receipt with a registration number, but how many care to check whether it is genuine? The forms have the girls’ names, address and ages – but where’s the proof? There should at least be a certificate from the school, as most have been to one until class two-three – but who thinks of asking?”

Another matter of concern, as Rishi kant points out, is the overlap between the placement agency network sourcing domestic help and the one trafficking women into the flesh trade. The government too, he says, has been slack in monitoring the agencies, or implementing the laws against child labour, or those governing minimum wage, work conditions, hours of work, etc.

“Only one state in India – Chhattisgarh, has a law to regulate domestic workers and placement agencies. In Delhi, which is where most of these placement agencies operate from, the government brought out a notification last year requiring registration of all placement agencies, passbooks issued to every employee, three-way contracts and payments to be made into bank accounts. But it’s been nearly a year and not a single placement agency has been registered and neither have the Delhi women’s commission or child welfare committee, which are supposed to monitor this, done anything.”

The domestic help, it seems, is invisible to the government too.

What makes Jharkhand the hunting ground of human traffickers

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BY DANISH RAZA IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

About 50 km south of Ranchi, in Khunti district, a narrow dirt road leads to Ganloya village.

Makeshift shops selling tobacco and mobile recharge cards are interspersed with thatched huts and tamarind trees in the hamlet of Panna Lal Mahto, allegedly one of India’s biggest human traffickers.

Despite the scorching heat, girls play barefoot in a clearing by a rice field. Nearby, a group of men sitting on a charpoy drink hadiya or rice beer. Of late, the village has been nicknamed Chora Ganloya — village of thieves — because of the growing number of young men turning to crime, primarily the trafficking of girls to ‘placement agencies’ in Delhi and the National Capital Region.

Khunti is one of five districts that form the Jharkhand belt — the others are Gumla, Simdega, Lohardaga and Latehar. The Jharkhand belt supplies domestic help to thousands of homes in Delhi and satellite towns such as Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad.

Unlike the state’s industrially developed districts, think Ranchi, Dhanbad or Bokaro, endemic poverty marks these districts, with more than 35% of the tribal population living below the poverty line. These pockets are also the Maoist war zones of Jharkhand.

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These factors make it prime hunting ground for traffickers such as 42-year-old Mahto, who had amassed assets worth over Rs 65 crore in Delhi and Jharkhand, having allegedly trafficked about 3,000 girls and women by the time of his arrest last October, the result of a joint operation by the Delhi police Crime Branch and the Jharkhand Anti-Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU).

“Most of these placement agencies are organised crime syndicates and they regularly indulge in trafficking of women and children. The business of placement agencies has been fuelled by huge demand of maids from eastern tribal states in the National Capital Region of Delhi,” noted the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) India Country Assessment Report, 2013.

About 4,000 children have gone missing in Jharkhand over the past 10 years. Of these, 1,000 are yet to be traced, according to the CID. Approximately 42,000 girls have been trafficked from Jharkhand to metropolitan cities, as per the NGO coalition Action against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children (ATSEC), making it a major hub of human trafficking in India.

Anubhuti Nag*, a tribal girl who will turn 18 next month, was among the first few girls in Patsera, a Naxal-affected village of about 100 families in Gumla district, to make the trip to Delhi.

Within two weeks of her arriving in the city, a man named Mukesh Kumar, a Jharkhand native in his late 40s running a placement agency, hired her for Rs 5,000 per month. Anubhuti’s job was to receive potential recruits at the railway station, bring them to the office of the agency, keep a check on about 50 girls placed across the city by the agency, and accompany the new recruits on their maiden visits to the homes of their employers.

girls_gonesGradually, Mukesh spotted a potential trafficker in Anubhuti and offered her Rs 10,000 for each girl she could get from her village to Delhi. One afternoon, Anubhuti discovered that the bag containing all her ID documents was missing. She confronted Mukesh.

“Don’t pay me, but please return my documents. I want to go home,” she reportedly said. When he wouldn’t listen, she became angry and slapped him. Enraged, Mukesh and two aides raped her, she says. The following week, Anubhuti was rescued in a joint operation by the Jharkhand and Delhi police, but the rape was not recorded or investigated, on her request.

Back in their villages, girls like Anubhuti find themselves out of place as the government does not run any programmes for their rehabilitation. Wearing branded jeans and a T-shirt, with a smartphone in her hand, she looks starkly different from the rest of Patsera’s inhabitants. She is more confident, speaks fluent Hindi with a smattering of English words such as ‘park’, ‘society’, ‘hello’ and ‘bye’.

The villagers call them ‘Dilli return’ girls. There are few prospects for them here. Anubhuti supports her family of five on her savings of Rs 25,000. She hasn’t thought about what she, or they, will do once that is exhausted.

Alakh Singh, member of the district child welfare committee, a quasi-judicial body, says that in addition to the financial insecurity, Anubhuti and others like her find it difficult to readjust to village life. This makes them vulnerable to re-trafficking, he adds.

The signs of distress are visible in the numerous child care institutions that have mushroomed across the state. And in the fact that many families do not come to claim daughters that have been rescued. Anjali Munda*, 15, a tribal from a village in Khunti and a trafficking survivor, has lost hope of ever being reunited with her parents. They were contacted by the police three months ago, but have stayed away.

At her Sahyog Village (Sahyog is Hindi for assistance) facility alone, there are more than a dozen survivors in the same predicament. “Some parents are not willing to take them back. Others don’t have the resources to support them,” says Altaf Khan of Sahyog Village.

As with most survivors, for Anjali too, the first point of contact in her ‘life-changing’ journey was an acquaintance based in the Capital — a friend’s cousin who worked in a jeans-manufacturing unit in Delhi. “He asked me if I wanted to see the city. One day I left with him without telling anyone. I think this is why my parents are angry with me and do not come to get me,” she says.

Weekly markets and village fairs, local buses, and crossroads in Ranchi city where villagers gather in search of work are points of contact for traffickers and potential victims.

“These chowks are also now becoming recruitment centres for agents who lure women and girls to Delhi for work,” noted a report on human trafficking in Jharkhand prepared by Shakti Vahini (Vehicle of Strength), an NGO working against organised crime.

While some leave without telling their families, there are parents who send their children off with ‘agents’ in the hope that they will find employment in a big city.

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Even those that are placed in jobs as promised end up isolated and dependent, forced to work as domestic help in slave-like conditions. Most are never paid.

ATSEC found that only 25% of the women who leave the Jharkhand belt with agents remain in contact with their families. “Usually, parents stop hearing from their children and the agents stop taking their calls,” says Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini.

Approaching police is a taboo in Naxalaffected villages, so many cases remain unreported. The women just disappear, and there is no one equipped to look for them.

In Gumla’s villages, the writing is literally on the wall. Messages warning people about human trafficking are scribbled on the exterior walls of houses and read, “Saavdhan. Kahin aapke bacche maanav vyaapar ka shikaar toh nahin (Beware. May your child not fall prey to those who trade in humans).”

Although the state government has taken some initiative to combat trafficking, establishing district child protection forces and special juvenile police units, implementation and enforcement are poor.

The result is that the trade continues unabated, even as Panna Lal Mahto and 75 others are lodged in Khunti prison, facing charges of trafficking.

“It’s like a flood. You stop the flow from one side, and it finds another way,” said Aradhna Singh, sub-inspector with the AHTU in Khunti, one of 225 such units set up across the country by the union home ministry in 2011-12. “According to our information, Mahto’s aides remain very active.”

Earlier this month, Mahto’s nephew, Manan*, a minor, was arrested at Ranchi railway station with three girls. None of the arrests seems to have deterred the rest of the trafficking network. The crackdown has just prompted them to modify their operations.

“Recruiting minor traffickers is a new trend,” Singh says. “It is difficult to prove their criminality in such cases. Even if it is proved, they will be tried under the Juvenile Justice Act and not the Indian Penal Code.”

Many traffickers now opt for Ranchi-Delhi Rajdhani train to evade the task forces that now watch the Jharkhand Sampark Kranti Express, dubbed the Slavery Express. “On the Rajdhani, you don’t raise suspicion. Who would expect a trafficker to travel in the second class coach of an air-conditioned superfast train?” says Baidnath Kumar, program officer at Diya Seva Sansthan, a grassroot organisation in Ranchi.

The market has changed too. “Some of the victims are sent to Haryana where there is a demand of brides… Jharkhand women and children have been also in high demand to work as bonded labour in Haryana and Punjab,” according to the UNODC report.

Will Jharkhand ever tackle its trafficking menace? Mahto offered a worrying perspective during his arrest. “I have given jobs to far more people than the state government has,” he reportedly said.

One week, 8 kid rescues

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New Delhi, Sept. 16: A minor Simdega girl, allegedly kept captive for seven years at a high-profile professional’s home in Mathura, was rescued today by an interstate police team, becoming the eighth child from Jharkhand to be rescued from in and around National Capital Region the past one week.

A three-member Jharkhand Police team, accompanied by eight Uttar Pradesh policemen, rescued the 16-year-old girl who was kept as a virtual prisoner at the home of a managing director of a dental college for seven years.

Simdega anti-human traffic unit (AHTU) inspector-in-charge Ramashish Sharma, who led the team, told The Telegraph this evening over phone from Mathura: “The girl’s father complained to the police that he had not heard from her for a very long time. All he knew was that she was working somewhere near Delhi.”

The police first traced the trafficker, now settled in Delhi, who led them to Mathura.

“She was working at the home of one Manoj Agrawal, the MD of Kanti Devi Dental College. The girl had not been allowed exposure to the outside world for seven years,” Sharma said.

At the time of filing the report, UP police were doing paperwork. Given the high profile of the employer, the UP home department from Lucknow is believed to be monitoring the case after they gave the green signal to raid the home.

“I don’t know if Agrawal will be arrested,” Simdega AHTU in-charge said.

133130997This shocking case follows yesterday’s rescue, when a team of Delhi police and NGO Shakti Vahini, led by Delhi Commission for Women chairperson Swati Maliwal, rescued five children of West Singhbhum from a West Delhi placement agency.

They included two boys, between 14 and 15 years, and three 16-year-old girls.

An anonymous caller had tipped off the NGO that a girl from Jharkhand, recently brought to Delhi, had contracted dengue and pleaded she be sent back home. But she was allegedly being treated badly by her recruiters at BB Enterprises, an unregistered placement service for domestic helps.

When the raid team turned up at the address last night, they found not one but five children, all from Tukjur village of West Singhbhum, including the girl they were looking for.

One Birsa Pandu, who called himself a “placement agent”, was also arrested.

Last week, in separate raids in Meerut and North Delhi, two tribal sisters from Gumla were rescued.

The Telegraph also reported on Monday about a search operation in Palwal, Haryana, when a missing girl from Garhwa refused to go home, saying she was married and carrying the child of the man who allegedly procured her from traffickers.

Fears rise with floods, dam height – Vigil to stop trafficking

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TELEGRAPH

Guwahati, Sept. 15: Severe floods in Assam have fuelled fears of a spurt in trafficking of women and children from the ravaged areas of the state.

Police and NGOs are keeping vigil in the vulnerable areas since disasters have in the past caused largescale displacement of people, leading to migration, a situation that traffickers try to take maximum advantage of.

Shakti Vahini, an anti-trafficking NGO, said at least five minors from Assam, who were being trafficked to Delhi, have been rescued from trains in West Bengal and Bihar since August.

Deep Banerjee, regional project manager (North Bengal) of Shakti Vahini, told The Telegraph that on August 27 they had rescued a 16-year-old girl from Kokrajhar in Assam at New Jalpaiguri railway station and reunited her with her family.

“Another teenager from Dhubri in Assam was rescued at Katihar railway station in mid-August. At present, she is lodged in a shelter home at Araria since she is not been able to give the correct address of her village which is creating problems in locating her house,” he said.

“On September 3, two girls from Dhubri district, aged 15 and 16, were rescued from New Jalpaiguri railway station while they were being taken to Delhi by a suspected trafficker with the lure of employment. The trafficker managed to escape,” he added.

Banerjee said with floods hitting Assam, there could be a rise in trafficking of women and children from the vulnerable areas of the state. To prevent trafficking, the NGO is maintaining vigil on trains coming from Assam and at New Jalpaiguri, Siliguri junction and Delhi railway stations.

Director-general of police (CID) Mukesh Sahay said trafficking cases have been detected in the state in the past 15 days. He said it has been observed that post-disaster, both natural and manmade ones like riots, which cause displacement, incidents of trafficking are on the rise.

“We are aware of it and directions have already been issued to police, other government agencies concerned and civil society groups to remain alert and look for traffickers and their agents who become active in such situations,” Sahay said.

An official of the state social welfare department said people who have lost their agricultural land and homes due to erosion and floods are most vulnerable to trafficking since it becomes easy to take them to Delhi and other places with the lure of employment.

Digambar Narzary, chairperson of Nedan Foundation, a Kokrajhar-based anti-trafficking NGO, said the condition of the tarpaulin-roofed relief camps in Kokrajhar district, which shelter the riot-affected people from Adivasi and Bodo communities, had become pathetic following heavy rainfall in past weeks.

“Inmates of these camps are most vulnerable. Every week, we are getting two to three reported cases of trafficking from these areas,” he said.

Though there has been a steady improvement in the flood situation, even today 1,063 hectares of crop land and 62 villages are under water. Around 62 people have died in the latest wave of floods.

Shakti Vahini spokesperson Rishi Kant said there had been a rise in trafficking from Nepal after the devastating earthquake this year, from the Sundarbans after cyclone Aila hit Bengal in 2009 and the same could happen in Assam if preventive measures are not taken.

Trafficking of kids, workers, women thrives in Bengaluru

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BY ARUN DEV PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA BANGALORE

BENGALURU: On a tipoff, police knocked on the doors of a 60-year-old businessman in southeast Bengaluru in August and rescued a woman in her mid-20s, held captive.

When investigators sat down with the woman, what unfolded was a story of unending horror. The Nepal woman was brought to Bengaluru with the promise of a job in a beauty parlour. But she ended up in the apartment in the captivity of a businessman, who allegedly sexually abused her. The woman is among the hundreds trafficked to Bengaluru on false promises. From providing maids to migrant IT professionals to manual labourers for brick kilns, begging and immoral trade, human trafficking is a well-oiled racket in the city.

While other southern states show a decline in the number of trafficking cases, the numbers are growing in Karnataka. Police say Bengaluru accounts for a lion’s share of cases reported from the state. As per the home ministry, Karnataka registered the second largest number of trafficking cases in South India, and third largest number in the country.

Tamil Nadu, which registered the maximum number of cases (509), has shown a decrease from its 2012 (528) and 2013 (549) cases. Karnataka recorded 472 cases in 2014, compared to 412 in 2012 and 412 in 2013.

“Each time we raid brothels, we find many of the women rescued are not there because they want to be there. Frankly, I’ve been told this argument is bogus but the fact is, these women are put in a situation where they have no options. Some don’t have the means to get home — in some cases, their family members send them and in other cases, they don’t even know how to get back. The psychological torture some of the immoral trafficking victims undergo is unimaginable,” said a Crime Branch officer.

Also, the gold rush for jobs in the developing cities of South India has become a trap. A revenue department official, who is responsible for keeping track of rescued bonded labourers, said in most cases, people from East Indian states are lured with false job offers. “Their situation back home makes any job appear lucrative, but they are forced to live in unimaginable situations. In some cases, we found only one toilet for a group of people, and they were not allowed to leave the factories, so they may not run away,” said the officials.

Across agencies, officials agree that mere rescue won’t do the job; there is a need to identify touts and gangs who operate these trafficking gangs. But then again, they claim it is easier said than done.

TIMES VIEW

It’s a shame that the crime of human trafficking continues in India, and the racket thrives on the poverty and desperation of one section of society. It’s the illiterate and unemployed who are easy targets, and sadly, it’s children who are preyed upon the most. With Bengaluru becoming a destination for this trade, city police should keep a watch on the influx of migrants. It is up to law-enforcement authorities and an alert society to stem this trade of humans, or they could just end up becoming statistics in this illegal business.

Illegal Placement Agencies Work as Front for Sex Slaves

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BY EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE PUBLISHED IN THE SUNDAY STANDARD

NEW DELHI: Indian investigators looking into the human trafficking ring from Nepal zeroed in on a curious fact. The girls who fetch the highest prices, come from Melchi village and a Sindhupal Chowk town, around 100 kilometers from Kathmandu. The doe eyes, fair skinned girls from Melchi belongs to the Tawang Gurung caste, and are in great demand. From Sindhupal they are brought to Kathmandu on the pretext of getiing jobs and better life in India. To avoid detection by enforcement agencies, they are then moved to Kakarbita, approximately 250 kms from Kathmandu.

“They have changed their modus operandi. Girls are being brought through Siliguri instead of Sonauli in Uttar Pradesh. For Bangladeshi girls,  Guwahati is the transit point and the girls are sent to Paltan Bazar before boarding a train at Rangiya railway station which connects to Chennai and Mumbai. Recently, 60 Bangaladeshi girls were rescued from Rangiya station,” the officials said.

Investigators confirm that the mushrooming of illegal placement agencies play a key role in the thriving human trafficking industry in India.

A document, in possession of The Sunday Standard, reveals details about Nepalese girls rescued from various parts of India.  On July 14, Seema (name changed) was rescued from a hotel in Delhi’s Karol Bagh area. She belongs to Jhapa, a poor district of Nepal. Parsa, Makwanpur, Chitwan, Sindhuli, Arghakhanchi, too, are known to be major source of human trafficking. The tribal areas of Gumla, Lohardaga, Khunti and Simdega of Jharkhand and Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Malda, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal are the hubs of this fastest growing criminal enterprise.

Some big time traffickers have tied up with hotels and bedsits in Middle East cities, while some of them even own property to enable prospective victims to get work visas, and  are then trafficked.

Illegal Placeme

Like it has been discovered in the Majid rape case, a lot of the trafficking is done by placement agencies that are a front for organised crime syndicates. In Delhi, 462 placement agencies are registered with the  government, but more than 1,000 of them are running illegally. They are spread all over the city and operate from one room offices in unauthorised colonies. They have a wide network in West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Their targets are victims from sub-poor families, who are shown a rosy picture of life in Delhi and the Middle East countries to gain their confidence. The traffickers have penetrated the remotest of villages in Eastern India and Nepal, which are the worst hit by poverty and hunger.

Once the girls fall into their trap, they are tortured and forced to have sex with hundreds of men until they are “broken.” A grim humour pervades this brutal business.

“Strangely, 75 per cent of traffickers are nicknamed Raju or Raja, whether the girls being trafficked are from a remote Nepal village or from Jharkhand,” says a Delhi police officer.

Sex trafficking is a booming $120 billion global criminal industry and an estimated 8,00,000 women and children are trafficked across international borders for sexual exploitation every year. A girl sold to a brothel in India fetches between Rs 1 to Rs 3 lakh. But they fetch a better price in the Middle East, with the traffickers getting paid between Rs 6 to Rs 12 lakh a girl.

Hence, the lure of smuggling sex slaves abroad. The criminal human chain starts with a local agent who lures the victims from home for Rs 5,000 to Rs 10,000 per woman as their commission. The trafficker earns more than Rs 2 lakh with a single female. “This dirty business runs into thousands of crore,” says a senior Delhi cop.

According to a UN report, 79 per cent of total female trafficking is bound for sexual slave market followed by forced labour (18 per cent).

The parents of the girls are paid just Rs 10,000 with the promise that every month the same amount of money will be delivered to them.

Which, of course, never happens.Parents of a Nepalese girl who was rescued from Chandigarh had told investigators that they were paid Rs 5,000 by a Nepali middleman. They were promised aid of Rs 4,000 every month saying that their 14-year -old daughter will also be able to go to school while working in India.

The parents had approached authorities after there was no news from her nor any sign of the money.

“Victims fall into the sex trap because of various reasons including illiteracy, poverty, family conflict and lack of awareness,” says the officer, adding that India’s sex industry itself includes over 15 lakh women.

Sex Slaves For Middle East And ISIS Smuggled Through India

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BY SUMIT KUMAR SINGH IN THE SUNDAY STANDARD

Sex sells, or so the bizarre saying goes. Literally, thousands of women from India, Nepal and Bangladesh are sold every year to customers in the Middle East, and the slave markets and sex-prisons of ISIS fighters in Syria. New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata are the transit points for these sex traffickers. In this web of horror, the predators and facilitators even include airlines and immigration officials. Months before the First Secretary of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in New Delhi, Majid Ashoor, and his Saudi friends were exposed for allegedly gangraping and brutally assaulting two Nepalese girls in his Gurgaon house, another 24-year-old Nepalese woman Reema (name changed) was sold to a middleman by her parents in Nepal. Her dismal fate would have dumped her in the international network of human traffickers to be sold in the booming sex slave market of the Middle East. She, along with six other unfortunates, were detained at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport on July 27, when they were about to board a flight to Dubai. But the markets have expanded.

As the immigration desks at airports have been alerted about the trafficking, and documents as well as the travellers are verified and scrutinised carefully, sex agents have started sending women and girls first to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Morocco and Bangkok, and from there, have obtained visas for the Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, as well as Egypt and Syria. Africa has become the new thriving slave market for these girls with buyers coming from Tanzania and Kenya.

Police investigations into the L’Affaire Majid revealed a bigger network operating, even involving two Air India employees Manish Gupta and Kapil Kumar, who issued boarding passes for flights. In February 2014, Delhi Police and CISF, acting on an Intelligence Bureau alert, rescued 76 Nepalese girls travelling to Dubai from the clutches of traffickers and were repatriated back home. Sources said it is most likely  that they would be sold again to the highest bidder because they are promised lucrative jobs abroad, which would help them escape poverty and misery. On September 2, R&AW issued an alert to Delhi Police about Bangladeshi girls being trafficked from New Delhi to Dubai, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.  “An India-based unidentified contact reached out  on August 31 to his Bangladesh-based female associate and informed that he has ‘managed’ the necessary liaisons in New Delhi through which he would be able to obtain visas for Bangladeshi nationals for Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Dubai,” the alert said.

The R&AW note also observed that the price for each girl was `6 lakh.  Similar alerts were issued by Central agencies on trafficking of women from Nepal, West Bengal, Jharkhand and the north eastern states of India.

Central agencies had alerted the Delhi Police, Bureau of Immigration and airport officials about the racket. “We receive alerts about women trafficked to the Middle East for sexual exploitation,” said a top senior police officer.

A senior police officer from Nepal is currently visiting Delhi to meet with Indian security agencies with details of girls missing from his country over the past two years, who are suspected to have been sent to the Middle East by Delhi-based traffickers. On September 11, he held meetings with various senior police and intelligence officers.

In May this year, Nepal’s Central Investigation Bureau shared information with Indian intelligence agencies that girls and women are being trafficked to Syria and are sold to ISIS terrorists as “sex slaves”. The Nepal government came across the information in April when it busted a group of traffickers, who sold the doomed females for merely `50,000 each to terror organisations in Syria to work in the sex trade.

The Nepal police agencies also said that the women are trafficked through India, especially Delhi. They had nabbed six Nepal-based agents and an Indian  trafficker, Tarun Rojan Khanagwal, who hails from Delhi.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Dinesh Gupta told The Sunday Standard that investigation in cases registered at Delhi airport reveals a vast network of traffickers using the airport as transit point.

The Reema case led to further revelations that more Nepalese girls were brought to Delhi and were given accommodation in Mahipalpur. The police conducted a raid on July 25 and arrested two Nepalese agents, Vishnu Tamang and Daya Ram. Twenty-one Nepalese girls  and women aged between 20 and 35 were rescued. They were to leave for Dubai.

The arrested Nepalese agents told the police that in the last two months,  they had trafficked more than 700 women to Middle East countries for `5,000 per person as commission.

“Delhi and Mumbai have become the transit points for trafficking of Nepalese and Bangladeshi and Indian girls and women,” said a top intelligence official.  In Delhi, around 106 women have been rescued so far this year; around 20 percent of them were bound for foreign shores. Last year, police rescued 235 women, while in 2013, the number was 160, including 43 from Nepal. In 2012, a total of 185 women and girls were rescued, of which 42 were from Nepal. But senior cops say the real figure of women being smuggled out for sexual exploitation is much larger. Shockingly, no database is maintained by any of the agencies. So far this year, police have arrested 62 human traffickers, including eight women, from Delhi. Last year, 199 were arrested, including 31 women.  In 2013, the figure was much higher with 286 arrests, which included 40 women.  The figures clearly suggest that Delhi Police has gone soft on human traffickers in the last two years.

A senior Delhi Police officer said, “It is very tough to detect girls who are more than 18 years old and are being trafficked to Middle East countries, since they leave the country with valid work permits.  Only late do they come to know that they will be forced into prostitution or  become bonded labourer.” He said that until their family members approach them with complaints, they are unable to know about the victim’s condition and moreover, they come from other states than Delhi.

With time, the traffickers have outsmarted the security agencies. Only novice agents send their prey abroad directly.  It is pertinent to note that there is no direct flight to Middle East countries from Kathmandu.  The Nepal Government has asked India to allow Nepal citizens to fly to the Middle East only after getting the necessary clearance from Protector of Emigrants.

“Emigration Clearance from the office of Protector of Emigrants is required for 18 countries—the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Malaysia, Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, Brunei, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Syria, Lebanon, Thailand, Iraq (emigration banned),” said a senior Delhi Police officer.

Like the Nepali women at the Saudi diplomat’s house, many make an ill-fated journey to the big city

180777_10150095433357197_5102103_nThe absence of a law for domestic workers means they not only get exploited but also find no redress. Meet Monika, an adivasi woman from Bengal who has worked without pay for three years.

“Nothing can be done in her case as there is no law for domestic workers.” The official at the labour welfare department in Karampura looked apologetic as he explained the government was working on such a law. Meanwhile, nothing could be done for 23-year-old Monika Mardi, who stood quietly by in the office.

Nearly three years ago, Monika had left home after a fight with her elder sister. Home was in Goriagram, in West Bengal’s Birbhum district. The Mardis, an adivasi family, own a piece of land there. It’s a large family and money has always been short, depending on what the land yields.

Monika was in touch with a Malati Besra, a woman from the neighbouring Boddopaharigram, who helped young girls from Bengal and Jharkhand get to Delhi and other faraway places. “I said I wanted to work, and I didn’t tell anyone at home,” Monika recalls. She was offered a job that would pay Rs 3,500 a month by agents in Delhi. They took Monika to a businessman’s house in Kirti Nagar in West Delhi, where she had to do almost all the work in a household of six people.

Three years later, she hasn’t seen any of the money, she doesn’t know her home anymore and has lost all her Bengali. “They said they [the agents] took your money. Maybe the family gave them money, I don’t know. They wouldn’t let me eat until I had finished all the day’s work. They wouldn’t let me go out of the house. I wanted to go home and they said it’s not time for you to go yet,” she said.

Back home, her family tried to get in touch with Monika, with little success. Her brother-in-law, Ghasiram Hembrom, said they spoke to her six months after she had reached Delhi. “She said she was doing well, though she hadn’t got any of the money yet.” Then he lost her number and Malati became the only point of contact.

“She kept saying Monika was fine but wouldn’t let us talk to her,” Hembrom said. Was Malati known in the village? Yes, he said. Had she taken any other girls to Delhi from there? Yes, eight or nine, or maybe 12, nobody was sure. Did anyone know what had happened to these girls? No.

“Finally, after pressing Malati for a long time, I was allowed to come to Delhi to meet her. The employers still wouldn’t agree to send her back home. They said they would bring her in June and that they had paid her salary to the agents, Sanjay Kumar and Miri,” said Hembrom.

As Hembrom was about to board his train back to Birbhum, the agents handed him Rs 15,000, though by then Monika was owed much more. “They threatened me and forced me to sign a blank piece of paper,” he said. Back in Delhi to collect his sister-in-law again, he is still receiving threats. “Meyeke ki kore niye jao ami dekhchi (Let me see how you take the girl back),” Miri had said.

The invisible multitude

Monika is only one of a swelling stream of women who make the ill-fated journey to Delhi and other big cities, both within the country and abroad. Women who are invisible, trapped behind the closed doors of affluent households. The ordeal faced by the Nepali women at the Saudi diplomat’s house in Gurgaon has suddenly drawn attention to this multitude, and by extension, to organised crime on a frightening scale.
“Bengal is both a source and transit point for trafficking,” said Sarbari Bhattacharya, officer in charge of the anti-human trafficking cell of the West Bengal CID. “From Nepal, the girls are taken to Darjeeling, and then to Bagdogra or New Jalpaiguri, from where they travel to other parts of the country or abroad. Girls from Bangladesh also travel to Kolkata, and are passed off as Bengali girls in other parts of the country.”

Trafficking is particularly rampant in North 24 Parganas, Siliguri, Darjeeling, Cooch Behar and the Sunderbans. Other hot spots are Upper Assam and areas in Jharkhand, such as the districts of Gumla, Kunthi and Simdega. In Andhra Pradesh, there is a flow of workers going out from Kadapa district, East and West Godavari districts, Visakhapatnam and old Hyderabad, mainly to the Middle East. Kannur in Kerala is also a hub for trafficking to the Middle East.

“There is a large influx from Nepal since the country bans women from going abroad as domestic workers,” said Sister Lissy Joseph of the Andhra Pradesh Domestic Workers’ Welfare Trust. “We have open borders with Nepal so the women come to India and then travel abroad illegally. India also prohibits women under 30 from going abroad as domestic workers, but the rule is never followed.”

The volume of this human flow is anybody’s guess. “In 2014, 18,000 went missing from Bengal, 1,200 from Jharkhand, and that was according to police records. I have information of 5,000 missing women and children from Gumla district alone. And many more disappearances go unreported since these are tribal districts and people are scared to approach the police,” says Rishi Kant, who works with an NGO called Shakti Vahini. “I have seen 5,000 women go out from Kadapa district,” said Joseph.

“Until we actually find the victims, we can’t say whether it is a case of an affair, or ordinary migration or actual trafficking,” Bhattacharya said. But sometimes, consent may be extracted through promises of love or employment.

Shadow rings

The modus operandi of the trafficking rings in Bengal, at least, can often blur the lines. “Very often, the dalal will romance the girl and ask her out for phuchkas. Then he’ll mix something in the phuchkas and spirit her away while she is still drugged,” said Kant.

In Andhra Pradesh, where the movement is towards the Middle East, these agents have set up an effective system to help women avoid immigration clearances. “The government does not have centres in the villages but the agents can reach there,” said Joseph. “There are three or four levels of agents, collecting money from these women, and there are more agents waiting on that side. They usually distribute illegal visas for a fee from the women and also collect money in advance from the employer as well. As of last year, there were 168 women trapped in Bahrain’s open jails.”

It doesn’t help that the traffickers are shadow organisations that have largely evaded detection. “By the time a complaint is filed, it has already been 48 hours,” said Bhattacharya. “By then the girl could be in any other part of the country or in another country. And usually we don’t have any particulars of the trafficker. Even if we arrest the middleman in the village, they will only have a phone number and a false name. But the person giving them instructions will have discarded the phone the moment the operation’s done. Sometimes, by the time the case comes to us, it’s been years and it is then impossible to trace the girl. Many girls are being lost this way.”

These are highly organised rings, with their members in constant contact with one another. The Jharkhand police did manage to catch 47 dalals recently, said Kant, but many more remain on the loose.

What the law cannot see

Monika’s case reveals how vulnerable you are to fantasies spun by others if you are poor and want a better life, but also how little hope of justice you have if you are an adivasi, from a rural home and employed in domestic work.

When Monika disappeared, Ghasiram said he didn’t go to the police, “Because we are adivasis and they would only create trouble.” He works with an NGO in Birbhum, called Uthnau, which put him in touch with Ananya Biswas and Yuvraj Lohar, a couple in Delhi who help the NGO.

After they collected Monika from her employers’ place, they went to the Kirti Nagar police station to file a complaint, but Ghasiram and Monika were harassed and interrogated instead. When contacted by Scroll, the station house officer at Kirti Nagar police station merely said that Monika had filed her complaint and left. Next, they tried the labour welfare department. There, the labour officer in charge patiently explained the law to an incredulous audience.

There was no way Monika could claim redress, he said. Domestic workers were part of the unorganised sector, which was largely unprotected by the existing labour laws. The Domestic Workers’ Welfare and Social Security Act 2010 has been stuck in the pipeline for five years now. If they could provide the details of the placement agency, something might be done about it in future. But even that would take a while. “There is a Delhi Private Placement Agencies (Regulation) Bill,” said the official. “But it’s stuck because they are still working out the rules.”

If Monika wanted to recover the money she was owed, she could try filing a civil suit at Tees Hazari. Punishment for employers was near impossible in these cases, he said, there were simply no laws to recognise that they had committed an offence.

The absence of legislation is a problem faced by law enforcement agencies across the country. For abducted minors, there are a number of laws, such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act. “But for women, Section 366 is the only provision of the Indian Penal Code that we can charge the offenders with,” said Bhattacharya. It prescribes punishment for “kidnapping, abducting or inducing woman to compel her to marriage etc.”

“In theory, we have several measures, like a special task force and a state action plan. But in practice, much more needs to be done.”

The point of return

Maybe the tide of women travelling to different parts of the world cannot be turned. “It’s no use having restrictions,” Joseph said. “Agriculture is shrinking and there is no other employment. Women will go abroad to ensure a better future for their families. Without the required skill and with no language training, these women are exploited even more by their employers. In Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, the government trains these women so that they can be valuable additions to the workforce. The Indian government should do the same.”

But for now, Monika wants to go home. Delhi has given her neither money nor a better life. Yet Birbhum is a home she hasn’t visited in three years, where the very language has become strange to her.

“The rehabilitation story is one that never gets told,” says Bhattacharya. “Once a girl leaves home and returns after years, she may never be accepted in society again.” The women who endured years of an ordeal now move in a cloud of suspicion in their  native villages. So for the lucky few who do make it back, it is often a rough homecoming.