Gurgaon victims among those trafficked after Nepal Earthquake?

Spurt in human trafficking from Nepal after April devastation, say Indian agencies

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By Devesh Pandey/ Published in The Hindu

Two Nepalese women sexually exploited allegedly by a Saudi Arabian diplomat in Gurgaon are victims of a well-developed human trafficking network operating from Nepal.

The number of women and children falling prey to the network has increased after April’s earthquake in the Himalayan nation.

Sources in Indian agencies say the two women are “luckier” than hundreds of other victims of highly organised networks operating from Nepal.

Though the exact numbers on forced migration of Nepalese nationals are not available, latest data with the Sashastra Seema Bal that guards the 1,751-km border with Nepal show a five-fold increase in trafficking post-earthquake.

Till April 24, the SSB registered eight cases involving 47 victims and 12 traffickers. As was feared by experts, the SSB began recording a significant increase in number of cases after the disaster struck.

Sources said 38 more cases had been recorded and 126 victims rescued with the arrest of 51 agents from Nepal, West Bengal, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.

Officials said immediately after the earthquake SSB’s Interaction Team and the 4,500-strong civil (intelligence) wing were activated to take preventive measures at 470 border outposts.

One of the first major human trafficking rackets unearthed after earthquake was by the Delhi Police had unearthed a major human trafficking racket with the rescue of 30 Nepalese girls at Delhi’s IGI airport in July.

“Governments of the bordering states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal have issued instructions to all the districts to check human trafficking along the border. In fact, the UP government has also got closed-circuit television cameras installed in the border districts for effective surveillance,” said Ravi Kant of non-government organisation Shakti Vahini.

There has been a gradual increase in the trafficking of Nepalese girls for commercial sexual exploitation in the past few years, officials in SSB and activists say.

A recent Central Bureau of Investigation study of the data available with Bureau of Immigration, Foreign Regional Registration Office, airline firms and major travel agents, indicated that up to 8,000 Nepalese girls had been trafficked to Dubai via Delhi airport to be pushed into prostitution in recent years.

The most common pretext employed was a projected tour to Nairobi via Dubai. But then the victims would be de-planed in Dubai, their tickets to Nairobi and hotel bookings cancelled.

Officials point out that the Nepalese government order barring women below 30 years of age from boarding a flight at Tribhuvan International Airport (Kathmandu) to major trafficking destinations if not accompanied by a family member, has only contributed to the trafficking syndicates using Delhi and other Indian cities for taking out their victims.

Traffickers have devises land routes, opening up several gateways along the Indo-Nepal border in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, most active entry points being Sunauli (UP) and Siliguri (West Bengal). “All the routes close to railway stations with links to major transits like Delhi are in use,” said an SSB officer. As per an estimate, there are about 100 unofficial border entry points with Nepal.

Expressing concern over the sudden increase in trafficking cases, Archana Tamang, international consultant at Human Rights and Equality in Kathmandu, told The Hindu: “The Nepal government will soon launch a survey to gather details of post-quake victims of trafficking. Good news is that on the Indian side, NGOs and police agencies have been taking effective measures. There is a need to check shady recruitment agencies involved in the racket.”

However, Mr. Kant pointed out, in many cases it becomes difficult for Indian agencies to take action in cases where Nepalese women are found travelling on genuine papers.

“In 2012, the CBI had in coordination with Shakti Vahini intercepted 70 Nepalese nationals. However, they had to be let off as they were carrying valid papers….all of them get lured by a better job prospect,” he said, adding that there is also a need for effective implementation of law by the Protector General of Emigrants to put a check on illegal activities of Indian recruitment agencies.

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