India’s first anti-human trafficking law proposes life term for repeat offenders


The bill, reviewed by HT, also proposes a jail term of at least a year and a fine of Rs 1 lakh for those who abet trafficking or fail to protect a victim.
A trafficking victim who was rescued, in Jharkhand.

A trafficking victim who was rescued, in Jharkhand.(Vipin Kumar/HT File Photo)

Life imprisonment for repeat offenders, special courts and dedicated police units are part of key provisions in India’s first law to tackle human trafficking that is likely to be taken to Parliament for approval in the current session.

The bill, reviewed by HT, also proposes a jail term of at least a year and a fine of Rs 1 lakh for those who abet trafficking or fail to protect a victim; and seven years and Rs 2 lakh fine for the owner or manager of a property that has been used for the crime.

Around 8,100 cases of trafficking were recorded in India in 2016 and around 23,000 victims of trafficking were rescued that year, according to National Crime Records Bureau figures that experts call a “mere tip of the iceberg”. Currently, trafficking is covered by a clutch of laws that often delay trials but the government has been working on an umbrella legislation for more than two years.

“The bill — Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2017 — is ready and we will take it to Parliament in the Budget session, itself,” said an official involved in the process, asking not to be named.

“In India, life imprisonment does not mean jail for life but usually for a defined period which is generally more than 7 years. But this Bill clearly specifies that for repeat offenders and for those who have committed aggravated form of trafficking, jail term will be for the remainder of the offender’s life,” said the official.

“No person accused of committing an offence under this Act shall be released on bail or on his own bond…,” read the bill, reviewed by HT.

Since trafficking usually involves interstate gangs, the bill proposes district-level “anti-trafficking unit” with an “anti-trafficking police officer”, and a designated sessions court for speedy trials.

State governments need to create a Rehabilitation Fund that will allocate financial resources for protection homes, legal assistance to victims and skill development programmes. The fund will also be used for victim and witness protection and for generating awareness to prevent human-trafficking.

“Section 370 of the IPC is a very strong law to deal with human-trafficking, but this bill becomes important as victims require support such as rehabilitation, witness protection etc. Also a central bill would mean budgetary support to deal with the monitoring and prevention of human-trafficking,” said Ravi Kant, president, Shakti Vahini, an NGO working to prevent human-trafficking.

Govt plans anti-human trafficking unit under NIA

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Taking note of the rising cases of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation of women and children, the Centre is planning to set up a dedicated anti-human trafficking wing under a central investigation agency like the National Investigation Agency. Functioning under the ministry of home affairs, Rs 324 crore is proposed to be allocated from the Nirbhaya Fund by the women and child development ministry as this is also being seen as a major ‘women safety’ issue. “The WCD had written to the home ministry earlier asking it to create a dedicated set up within a investigating agency like NIA to probe trafficking cases and coordinate investigation into trafficking networks operating across states and beyond India,” sources in MHA said.

“The ministry has reverted saying that it was agreeable on designating an agency under it for the job. While it has not yet finalised NIA as its choice yet, it appears most suited for thess job. Once the WCD ministry formalises the proposal and prepares a Cabinet note in this regard, the home ministry will have to assess how NIA needs to be empowered under the law to investigate trafficking crimes,” said a senior home ministry official.

The planned anti-trafficking wing will give a boost to efforts of investigators when the proposed Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2017, becomes a reality. A group of ministers (GoM), at present examining the bill, may approve expansion of the definition of trafficking to include persons who are smuggled to foreign countries in the garb of labour for jobs but end up as victims of abuse and exploitation.
Also the structure of advisory board of the proposed National Commission on Trafficking in Persons under the bill may be reworked to enable better inter-departmental coordination. The bill, referred to a GoM chaired by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, has completed its meetings and the final draft is expected to be approved soon so that it can be presented before the Union Cabinet.
The WCD ministry is hopeful of introducing it when the budget session resumes after recess in March, sources said.


NCRB report showing Bengal on top in human trafficking is fabricated: Mamata Banerjee


“The number of cases filed in Bengal in connection with human trafficking in 2016 was only 948 but NCRB says it is 3579. This is politically motivated,” Mamata Banerjee told the state assembly.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee told the state assembly on Friday that wrong  figures have been published by the National Crime Records Bureau.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee told the state assembly on Friday that wrong figures have been published by the National Crime Records Bureau.

The West Bengal government has challenged the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report that shows the state on top in human trafficking cases in 2016.

“Our director general of police Surajit Kar Purakayastha wrote to NCRB director Ish Kumar on December 19 last year and sought a corrigendum in this regard,” chief minister Mamata Banerjee told the state assembly on Friday. She even placed the DGP’s letter before the house.

“NCRB did not check with us before publishing the figures. The number of cases filed in Bengal in connection with human trafficking in 2016 was only 948 but NCRB says it is 3579. This is politically motivated. We have demanded a correction in the report and a corrigendum,” said Banerjee.

In December 2017, the NCRB came out with its annual crime report for 2016. It said 8,132 cases involving human trafficking were reported in India with 3579 or 44 per cent of these cases recorded in Bengal alone. Rajasthan came second with 1,422 cases, the report said.

Opposition parties in Bengal used these figures to sharpen their attack on the Trinamool government.

Claiming that law and order situation in Bengal has improved ever since Trinamool came to power, Banerjee told the assembly that her government has taken many initiatives. “As many as 108 new police stations had been set up across the state. This has reduced crime,” she said.

Human trafficking gang busted in Haryana


Related imageHaryana police claimed to have busted a gang of criminals involved in human trafficking with the arrest of two members and got three minor girls released following a raid.
conducted under the supervision of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Child Welfare Council (CWC).
Stating this on Saturday, a Haryana Police spokesman said that these arrests were made following a complaint by Child Welfare Council member Ms Suman at Faridabad women police station on January 28.
The complaint was registered under sections 323/366/370/506 of IPC and 75,79 and 81 of Juvenile Justice Act and section 6 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.
He said that two years ago, a minor girl was sold by her maternal grandmother to one Surinder for Rs 4,000. Surinder brought the girl to his office where he allegedly sexually assaulted her and then left her at someone’s residence as a domestic help.
About 15 days ago, Mani Mishra, a friend of Surinder brought the girl to Faridabad and raped her several times. He also beat her and snatched Rs 30,000 which the girl had received as wages for working as a domestic help. The girl was admitted to Badshah Khan Government Hospital in Faridabad where she was medically examined and is undergoing treatment.
He said that a special team of the crime branch sector 30 police station, Faridabad, led by Inspector Sandeep Mor nabbed Surinder from the area of Surajkund police station on February 2. The accused was handed over to the team of ACP Ms Puja Dabla for further investigation.
Surinder has admitted to have purchased girls from his neighbouring villages and sell them to Mani Mishra and members of his family for Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000. They used to supply these girls in the National Capital Region and Faridabad to work as domestic help.
During interrogation, he also revealed that Mishra and him had sexually harassed the victim several times. While Mishra and members of his family live in a house, the girls are kept in a separate house. Surinder had also engaged one Arun as care taker to look after these girls.
Baed on the information, the police recovered three girls from Mishra’s house.
The spokesman said that the three girls who were recovered in a raid have been medically examined at the Badshah Khan Hospital. Surinder has, so far, sold 25-30 girls to Mishra.
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Human trafficking racket busted, four minor girls rescued

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The police today busted a human trafficking racket with the arrest of two persons. Four minor girls were rescued and one of them has been hospitalised after her employer allegedly inflicted injuries on her.The accused have been identified as Surender Malto and Arun, both residents of Jharkhand. The duo were arrested from Sector 30 here this morning.A police official said Surender had bought one of the victim from his home district for Rs 4,000 two years ago and had sold her to a person in Delhi. The victim, who is recuperating in a local hospital, told the police that she was not only raped several times, but was also sold to two persons during the last two years.She said she was employed as a domestic help in Delhi earlier and was brought to Faridabad and sold to one Mani Mishra here.She accused both her employers of torture and sexual abuse. She alleged that a remuneration of Rs 30,000 earned by her in Delhi was also snatched from her.She said on January 27, she was beaten up with iron rods and a knife and was seriously injured. She managed to escape from the confinement the same night. She was then admitted to a hospital by some locals.The police after registering an FIR carried out raids jointly with Haryana State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (HSCPCR). The other two accused namely Mani Mishra and his wife Anima Mishra are yet to be arrested.Mishra admitted that he had trafficked around 30 girls in the recent past. He said girls were sold upto Rs 20,000 each as domestic maids in the NCR.BK Goel, member, HSCPCR, said he had taken up the matter with the police asking it to probe the functioning of illegal placement agencies in the region.Two Jharkhand girls were also rescued in Ambala district recently.

Jharkhand Govt mulls ordinance route for stringent anti-trafficking law



Jharkhand government is mulling to bring an ordinance to promulgate Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act, which could not be placed in the budget session of the state assembly, as it was curtailed by eight days.

The Act is aimed at effectively countering the menace of human trafficking from Jharkhand, which as per NGOs working in the field see 10,000 girls—mostly minors—trafficked to Delhi and NCR region every year through placement agencies. They eventually end up as domestic servants—tortured and sexually abused in captivity in many cases.

“The draft bill for Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act was ready with all the modifications sought by the governor. But it could not be placed and passed as the assembly session ended before. I will meet chief minister (CM) Raghubar Das in a day or two and request him to bring an ordinance to promulgate the Act to effectively counter the menace of girl and child trafficking and child labour,” Raj Paliwar, state labour minister told the HT over phone.


Governor Droupadi Murmu had returned the draft bill earlier seeking more stringent provisions. “The earlier draft had penal provision of two-year jail and the governor wanted it to be more stringent. Now, penal provisions have been modified making it seven-year jail term on conviction,” a source said.

Paliwar though refused to get into details of the bill, but said all the modifications sought and suggestion given by the governor have now been accommodated in the draft of the said Act.

“The Act is the need of the hour and our government wants it enacted at the earliest. We have made stringent provisions and hope this will give police and antitrafficking agencies an effective tool to rein in traffickers and illegal placement agencies. We will also launch mass awareness drive,” the minister added.

West Singhbhum superintendent of police (SP) Anish Gupta said a strong law was needed to deal with the fake and illegal placement agencies along with awareness drive so that parents don’t get trapped and send their girls on promise of lucrative jobs.

“Parents need to lodge complaint and a strong law will help in speedy prosecution, effective trial and stringent punishment as a deterrent. There’s also sexual exploitation angle involved and we are imposing POCSO in such cases. We have identified certain placement agencies and traffickers and would launch crackdown against them soon,” Gupta said.

Gupta was the Khunti SP when the massive crackdown against child and girl traffickers was launched in Khunti, with antitrafficking unit in-charge Aradhana Singh alone nabbing 85 traffickers and rescuing about 230 trafficked girls between 2015 and 2017.

However, half of those 85 traffickers are already out on bail even though they were booked under non-bailable sections. “In most cases, the parents of the victims turned hostile with the traffickers and their associates threatening them or paying them money to shut up mouth. There’s no effective law to tackle the placement agencies either,” Aradhana Singh said.

Rishi Kant, founder coordinator of NGO Shakti Vahini, said Jharkhand Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act would be a very effective tool to fight the menace run by about 25,000-30,000 placement agencies in Delhi and NCR, as Delhi government has no

placement agencies Act to regulate and monitor them.

“We alone have rescued over 200 trafficked girls from Jharkhand in Delhi and NCR. About 30-40 girls and underage boys are trafficked from Jharkhand every day. And Delhi police are invariably reluctant to act against these

agencies, traffickers or the families hiring the girls. CM Raghubar Das in 2014 had announced to bring back 50,000 trafficked Jharkhand girls back to the state and rehabilitate them. It’s now for bureaucrats and police to take the initiative,” said Rishi Kant.


SSB rescues 14 human trafficking victims from Sitamarhi in Bihar


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New Delhi, Jan 19 (UNI) 14 victims of human trafficking were rescued by the Sashastra Seema Bal from Bihar’s Sitamarhi, an official release said here on Friday.
A total of 7 traffickers were apprehended from the Bairgania Railway Station Sitamarhi by the 20th battalion of SSB Sitamarhi on Thursday following a tip-off.
14 minor boys including 11 Nepalese aged between 8 to 16 years were rescued from their clutches who were to be taken to Mumbai by the Karambhum Express for child labour.
Later, the 7 traffickers were handed over to the Government Railway Police (GRP) out of whom 5 were Nepalese, the SSB said.
The rescued children were handed over to the NGO Childline Sitamarhi.
The SSB has been actively leading a campaign against the human traffickers on the Indo-Bhutan and Indo Nepal borders and has so far rescued 41 victims in 6 cases of human trafficking in 2018 apprehending 18 traffickers.

Leading a campaign against human traffickers on Indo-Nepal Border and Indo-Bhutan Border, SSB has rescued 628 victims and apprehended 169 human traffickers in 159 cases in the year 2017 and in 6 cases SSB rescued 41 victims and apprehended 18 human traffickers in the year 2018 so far.
Last year the border guarding force had rescued 628 victims and apprehended 169 human traffickers in 159 cases.

Indian radio hosts take to the airwaves to highlight human trafficking

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With human trafficking on the rise in India, some radio hosts are using their programs to raise awareness and help listeners spot traffickers.

In the Indian capital, New Delhi, radio host Ginnie Mahajan will talk trafficking on her award-winning show “Suno Na Dilli” (Listen Delhi) this weekend.

“We want Delhi to know that many of these girls working in their houses are reported missing by their parents,” she said.

“We need Delhi to know that girls are being forced into this trade.”

Human trafficking in India rose by almost 20 percent in 2016 against the previous year, Indian government data shows. More than 60 percent of the 23,117 victims rescued were children

Forty-five percent of victims were trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and 33 percent for sexual exploitation, according to the data.

“If we only checked details of the women around whom our lives and kitchens revolve we could actually stop the crime,” Mahajan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Delhi.

Radio has become an important tool in spreading awareness, campaigners say.

“It lets people know what is out there, the sheer horror of such a crime and how close to home it is,” said Adrian Phillips of anti-trafficking charity Justice and Care, which collaborates with radio stations.

While Mahajan’s show reaches urban Indians in the capital, a community radio station in the southern state of Karnataka recently went on air with a special program devoted to human trafficking.

Keerti S. Chougala, a host on Nammura Banuli (Our Village Radio), said she was aiming to educate her nearly 400,000 listeners on the impact of the crime, as well as how to spot traffickers and report cases.

“We wanted to tell women and girls in the region about this in a simple way and raise awareness,” Chougala said.

Run by charity Women’s Welfare Society, the show is broadcast across more than 400 villages in Belgavi district.

In November, a young trafficking survivor shared her story on Akaashwani radio in the eastern city of Kolkata.

An aspiring singer from Bangladesh, she told listeners how traffickers had promised her “starlit dreams” of becoming a singing sensation in India, and then trafficked her to a brothel.

Phillips said radio is ideal for sharing trafficking stories, because survivors can speak about their experiences anonymously, “without fearing repercussions from criminal networks.”

Radio also allows listeners to connect intimately with survivors, he added.

“It’s a real person speaking up and more importantly speaking out,” Phillips said.