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.
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.