DCW busts trafficking racket, rescues 3 minors

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Girls rescued from Janakpuri, Pitampura; boy from Hisar

The Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) on Sunday claimed to have busted a trafficking racket in east Delhi. Three minors, including a boy, were rescued.

181 helpline

Giving details, the DCW said its 181 helpline received a call from parents who had come from Jharkhand in search of their children. These children have been missing for the past three years.

“Accompanying the parents was a girl who was allegedly trafficked along with the other children but had managed to escape. She claimed she was receiving calls from an alleged female trafficker. The accused was trying to lure her to return to Delhi,” the Commission said in a statement.

Since the traffickers ran a placement agency in east Delhi, DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal said a trap was laid and the accused was called to Akshardham metro station. The panel said the trafficker arrived with an accomplice to meet the girl and the duo was caught with help from the local police.

During interrogation, the accused revealed details of two minor girls. They were rescued from Janakpuri and Pitampura. A minor boy was rescued from Hisar, Haryana, by the DCW’s mobile helpline team and the Delhi Police.


She said, “It is shocking that minors are not only trafficked but also employed by educated and affluent families. They are severely abused and not paid. Unregulated placement agencies are running unabated here and many are organised rackets for human trafficking.” She called for strict regulation of placement agencies.

It is shocking that minors are not only trafficked but also employed by educated and affluent families. They are severely abused and not paid…

Swati Maliwal

DCW chairperson


NIA likely to investigate human trafficking cases

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The National Investigation Agency (NIA) could be empowered to investigate cases of human trafficking, in what seems to be a breakthrough in the nearly year-long consultations among various stakeholders, including the home ministry and the ministry of women and child development.

Sources say the additional responsibility for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) would be part of the proposed anti-human trafficking law unveiled by Maneka Gandhi last year.

The move will also require amending the law that gave birth to the counter-terrorism agency — the National Investigation Act, 2008.

The Draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016, proposed setting up a National Bureau on Trafficking in Person for “prevention, investigation of the trafficking of persons cases and protection of the victims of trafficking” — a role which could be performed by the NIA, sources said.

“The ministry of home affairs (MHA) wanted NIA to investigate trafficking and we have agreed to that. MHA has also given its approval for the draft Bill. After we get a green flag from Prime Minister’s Office, a Cabinet note will be circulated,” according to a top official of the ministry of women and child development.

Another official said “a cell within NIA” could be probing human trafficking cases.

After the Union Cabinet gives its approval, the draft bill will be tabled before Parliament.

“Traffickers enjoy immunity because local police agencies are not able to probe inter-state or cross-border crimes. We require a nodal agency as 80-90 per cent of trafficking cases span across various states,” said Ravi Kant, Supreme Court Advocate & President of NGO Shakti Vahini,  explaining why activists have been seeking a central body to probe human trade.

Government officials say to empower the NIA to investigate trafficking cases the National Investigation Act, 2008, will have to be amended.

The NIA was set up by the previous UPA government in 2009 to probe terrorist activities in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people.

As per the National Investigation Act, the anti-terror body is empowered to probe offences under eight specified laws, including the Atomic Energy Act 1962, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, and the Anti-Hijacking Act 1982.

The proposed anti-human trafficking legislation will be independent of the existing law on trafficking in relation to prostitution — Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 — while a section of the civil society has sought an umbrella law.

The draft law divides offences into “trafficking” and “aggravated trafficking”.

The punishment for offences in the former category is rigorous imprisonment between 7 and 10 years and a fine of not less than Rs 1 lakh, while aggravated forms of trafficking will invite a jail term of between 10 years and life imprisonment and a fine of not less than Rs 5 lakh.

Aggravated trafficking will include trafficking of children, transgenders, differently-abled, pregnant women and those which involve use of drugs and alcohol.

There is also a provision for a national committee as well as a central fund for the relief and rehabilitation services for the victims.

No Signs On Road To Hell

Two border districts of Bengal are top hubs of trafficking of girls in India. Even locals aren’t safe.
No Signs On Road To Hell

Students rush back home from school in North 24 Parganas

Evening is descending over Ichhamati, the river flowing serenely along the border between India and Bangladesh that cuts through North 24 Parganas district in West Bengal. Along the bank, on the winding dirt path, two schoolgirls, 16-year-old Nandita and 13-­­year-old Mita, have stepped up on their bicycles’ ped­­als. “We have to rush home before it gets dark,” says Nandita.

In North 24 Parganas, this is more than just routine–it’s a standing instruction from parents worried about their daughters’ safety. It is also part of a lesson taught in almost every school in the vicinity, a mandatory special subject—a course on “how to identify and stay away from human traffickers,” says a girl. Absent in other parts of Bengal, it is unique to  both North and South 24 Parganas districts, and points to an ups­urge of girls from villages being kidnapped.

In fact, these two districts have a grim distinction—they are the source of the most number of girls trafficked into the sex trade in India. “Out of every ten girls rescued from brothels and red light areas across the country, six are from Bengal’s 24 Parganas districts,” Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, a pan-India anti-trafficking NGO, tells Outlook. “While Bengal is number two in the country after Assam in terms of trafficking, South 24 Parganas is the number one district, followed closely by North 24 Parganas.”

The common practice is to lure girls away with the promise of jobs. Their families don’t complain.

So grave is the menace that the West Bengal government has, since March 10, 2017, set up a separate police district that covers the Sunderbans area, which is said to be the most affected. The region, which shares with Bangladesh a vast deltaic border, streaked with crocodile-infested streams and covered in dense mangroves, has been identified by anti-trafficking NGOs and the police as also being the favoured zone of cross-border traffickers and smugglers. It bore fruit instantly—Tathagata Basu, the superintendent of police in charge, busted a trafficking racket operating from South 24 Parganas to the brothels of Delhi and Agra during which six girls from the district were rescued. The incident pointed to the burgeoning rackets that traffic local girls.

The father and brother of Faraq and Pinki

The busted group’s kingpins were a brother-sister duo from South 24 Parganas’ Dadpur village. They dipped into the des­­per­ation of the area’s poverty-stricken families for jobs and money, the raw material for their horrible racket being the countless illiterate girls—often, shockingly, their own neighbours.

“The commonest practice is to lure the girl away to distant places with promises of jobs,” explains SP Basu. “The families don’t object because they are in dire need of the promised money…. The family is regularly sent money and it serves as an incentive for other girls to follow suit. This is how the traffickers thrive. Most families don’t even lodge a complaint unless the money dries up. Even when they realise that their daughters have been forced into prostitution, they don’t always speak up.”

When Zubeda’s husband, a labourer, was accused of murder and jailed, a local young man who travelled across India for jobs suggested that the 20-year-old take up a job in Delhi. On his advice, she left her children with her mother and boarded a train to Delhi. “Once there, he took me to the house of a woman who gave him a bundle of cash. Next thing I know I was waking up from a stupor in a brothel. I had to serve 20-25 customers a day. If I ref­used, they beat me; they burnt me with cigarettes. Eventually. Zubeda was rescued and sent home.

This and other methods were used by Pinki and Faraq Ali Gayen, the aforementioned duo arrested by the police with help from Shakti Vahini. Pinki, born into a poor family in Dadpur, was abandoned by her first husband and was sold to a brothel in Delhi by her second husband. Following the age-old custom in this business of sleaze, she came to run her own brothel and roped in her younger brother, Faraq, to supply young girls. Faraq lured girls from his village by showing them photographs of Pinki’s purportedly flashy life in Delhi.

“My children were not like that,” their mother Sonia Bibi weeps, while speaking to Outlook. Their father made sweets from the juices of palm trees (nolen gur) in winter and hawked them. It was tough to make ends meet. Neighbours, therefore, were surprised by the sudden spurt in their income. As time went by, their modest hut grew to be a two-storeyed building. One of Pinki’s brothers opened a mobile recharge shop. The police say Faraq used to source numbers from him to contact, and later trap, girls. After the racket was busted, enraged neighbours vandalised their house, the shop and all but drove the family away.

But a neighbourhood rickshaw-puller smirks and says, “They are caught, that’s why they are being punished by neighbours. They can’t be the only ones running these rackets. Every day there are girls missing from our villages. And every so often some family or another is getting inexplicably rich.” His remarks also point to the trafficking of local women, by local criminals.

But what makes the 24 Parganas districts the highest in terms of trafficking, explain NGO workers, is the proximity to porous borders with Bangladesh through which infiltration takes place.

Bangladesh lies across this bridge on Ichhamati

Sanjay Raj, programme manager at Argobbhawva Humanity Development, an NGO working for children’s rights and rehabilitation in Bengal, points out that “Infiltration (from Ban­g­ladesh, for a better livelihood in India) and the resulting pov­­erty force families to resort to the promises of employm­ent made by traffickers, many of them known to them.”

Many of the hapless girls are also trafficked from across the notoriously porous border, from Bangladesh, and then sent off through an intricate and well-oiled criminal network to red light areas across India. Both North and South 24 Parganas shares bor­­ders with Bangladesh. “Girls are pushed in thr­­ough the por­ous border at Darjeeling and Siliguri from Nepal too, making the north Bengal districts figure high on the list of places from where girls are trafficked in India,” points out Rishi Kant. “But unlike Nepal, Bangladesh’s close linguistic and cultural ties with Bengal make it easier for Bangladeshi girls to be integrated, making them less conspicuous when they are moved around.”

Once the girls are smuggled in, they are sold to local pimps and are subsequently housed in local brothels and red light areas, then shifted to other parts of the country, especially Delhi, Mumbai and Agra. In India, their status as ‘illegal immigrants’ make them completely dependent on their traffickers for protection from police. Early on itself, their traffickers put the fear of god into them—if they raise an alarm, they are warned, they would be beaten, tortured and jailed. The fear of prison and police custody is so great that even after being rescued from their sordid fate, many girls would not admit to being from Bangladesh. “Their plight is worse, because unlike girls who have families in India, they have no option but to remain where they are,” Rishi Kant points out.

What makes infiltration relatively easy is, according to border security officials, the maddeningly irregular nature of the India-­Bangladesh border. It is fiendishly difficult to monitor the vast stretches of the border which doesn’t just run through rivers and jungles where wire fencing cannot be installed, but also cuts through houses and buildings. “Some parts of the Indo-Bangladesh border darts through areas where, say, one part of someone’s home falls in Bangladesh and the other is in India,” a top officer of the BSF, which guards the border, tells Outlook. “There are instances where in remote regions a kitchen is in India, while the front yard is in Bangladesh,” he adds, thereby giving credence to an old Partition trope. Rep­lying to allegations that the BSF is not able to contain cross-border smuggling, including human trafficking, he argues, “Our jawans cannot be expected to monitor such fluid borders.” The lacuna in the drawing up of a proper demarcation between India and Bangladesh is British oversight, he claims, and attributes the menaces of smuggling to that.

Petrapol, on the India-Bangladesh border in North 24 Parganas, along with Benapol, situated a few miles west, in Bangladesh,  are the main crossover points between the two countries. At these high-security land ports, the two nations are separated with high wire-meshed fences and guarded by gun-toting BSF personnel. Sentries and checkposts dot the river banks too, but local villagers ask, “How can they watch the whole of the terrain all the time?” Indeed, the vast expanse of marshy lands, paddy fields and water bodies on all directions, unmarred by border fencing, make it difficult for a anyone to figure out where India ends and Bangladesh begins. An on-duty BSF jawan holds out an outstretched hand, pointing an index finger at the line of demarcation. But he doesn’t look very sure—the line his expansive gesture delineates fades into the horizon in the gloaming.

No wonder then, in spite of official claims of a foolproof system in place to check infiltration, locals tell Outlook that almost every day people come into their villages from across the border. “Sometimes they swim across,” says a woman, a farmer’s wife, “and steal vegetables from our fields and go back. Sometimes they simply slide through the wire after creating a gap into it.” The villagers will not disclose much else. They would readily talk about petty thefts by Bangladeshis, but say that they know nothing of smuggling or trafficking. Living next to the border, in areas crawling with miscreants and criminals of all shades, their lips are sealed.

Village girls are trafficked, and girls are also brought in across a porous border from Bangladesh.

“See, smugglers and criminals have powerful police and politician connections in both countries,” a 20-year-old son of a farmer finally ventures boldly. “We don’t really deal with them or have anything to do with them.”

A picture emerges then of a two-pronged trafficking activity—girls brought in from Bangla­d­esh across porous borders, and, within that sub­­culture of rampant exploitation, of locals being kidnapped by criminals who are from the same community.

Every girl and woman that Outlook speaks to in the villages of 24 Parganas—from Arpita Mandal of Ghonaar Maat village on the banks of the Icchhamati to Shefali Biswas, the wife of a local grocery shop owner in Kaliani village—has this revealing line to say: “After sundown, we don’t go out.” They are aware of regular reports of missing girls and women from the area’s villages and towns. “I know of a girl who was kidnapped while on her way back from school,” says Trisha Sarkar of Putkhali village, as she herself hurries back home from school. “I didn’t know her personally,” she says, “but I heard about it.”

The sun has set over the Icchamati and there are only a few shadowy figures silhouetted against the evening sky. None of them are women.


2 wanted human traffickers arrested from Kolkata

The Tribune

 The Special Cell of Police recently arrested two wanted criminals from here for running a human trafficking syndicate for more than 10 years.The criminals have been identified as Saidullah Ali Gyan and Tihar Shaikh.In 2013, a human trafficking organisation was busted by Kamla Nagar police station, in which at least eig

Image result for Saidullah Ali Gyan and Tihar Shaikh.

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ht pimps were arrested.During that investigation, it was revealed that Gyan and Shaikh were running this syndicate.Last month, the Special Cell received some information about the duo’s whereabouts in West Bengal, after which secret sources were deployed in Kolkata and nearby districts to track them.The police team finally nabbed them on November 14, when they came to Sealdah Railway Station to fix a deal.

‘Good wife’ flees trafficking trap

The Telegraph


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A mother of two, who was allegedly sold to a man in Uttar Pradesh, feigned to be a happy homemaker for one-and-a-half months, all the while waiting for the right time to escape.

The trafficking survivor from Siakhala in Hooghly managed to flee from the house of Girish Yadav whom she was forced to marry and boarded a train from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh to reach Howrah station, said an officer of the government railway police (GRP), Howrah, where the woman lodged a complaint on Thursday.

“I pretended to be a happy housewife. Initially, I had no idea about the deal between Yadav and Tapas, the person who had taken me there. Later I came to know that Tapas had sold me to Yadav for Rs 70,000,” she told the police .

The woman was returning home to Hooghly, where she lived with her husband and two children, from her workplace in Bankura one day in early October when her handbag containing Rs 2,000 was stolen in the train. On reaching Howrah station, she had approached Tapas for help.

“The man gave her money to eat something. While chatting with her, he learned that she worked in Bankura and offered her a more lucrative job near his sister’s house in Uttar Pradesh,” a GRP officer said.

The woman agreed and left for Uttar Pradesh with Tapas after two days.

“Tapas took me to Yadav’s house and asked me to marry him. I had no choice,” the woman told police.

Initially, the woman was not allowed to step out of the house as Yadav would ensure that the doors were locked at all times.

With time, the woman managed to convince Yadav that she was “a good wife” and earned his trust before seizing an opportunity to leave the house when no one was around.

A team from the Howrah GRP will visit Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh. “We are working on some leads. Our team will soon visit Yadav’s house to get leads about Tapas,” said a police officer.

The woman is one of the hundreds of victims trafficked from Bengal every year.

According to the records of the National Crime Record Bureau, Bengal accounts for 20 per cent of all reported cases of trafficking in India. A total number of 5,466 cases of human trafficking were recorded in the country in 2014, 1,096 of them from Bengal.

Woman running orphanage arrested for trying to sell one-month-old boy in TN

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Police arrested a woman running an orphanagein Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu for allegedly trying to sell a one-month-old boy.

Police said the baby was born to a woman out of wedlock. As she did not want to raise the baby, the woman handed it over to the orphanage, run by Banumathi.

Banumathi was arrested after she was seen in a video trying to strike a deal with a man to sell the baby. In the video, which was shared widely on social media, she was seen demanding Rs 4 lakh from the man for the boy.

Banumathi has been running an orphanage in Aranmanai area of Ramanathapuram for several years. Elderly people and people with learning difficulties are being taken care of in the orphanage.
As people started sharing the video, Ramanthapuram district child protection unit, anti-human trafficking wing and Childline intervened and conducted investigations.
The Bazaar police registered a case based on a complaint filed by the district child protection unit and arrested her. The boy was rescued and shifted to a home.
Further investigations were to find out whether any such sale had taken place in the past.

India’s shame: modern slavery

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The 2016 Joint Global Estimates of Modern Slavery – published by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Australia-based NGO Walk Free Foundation (WFF) – which estimated that there are 24.9 million people in forced labour and 15.4 million in forced marriages worldwide seems to have rattled the Modi government. The reason is the survey’s conclusion that India accounts for most of them – more than 18 million of the estimated 40.3 million worldwide. After sending a rebuttal to ILO challenging India’s ranking, the government is now building pressure on it to distance itself from WFF, with which it collaborated in preparing the report. The government feels that the methodology of sampling is not clear and its focus on India had “enough potential to substantively harm India’s image and kill its exports market”.

This is a churlish response. Ironically the government’s stand has not been determined by those with domain expertise but by reports from the Intelligence Bureau. The methodology paper put in the public domain by WFF itself concedes that its report is not “without gaps and limitations” but provides “the best available data and information that exists about the scale and distribution of modern slavery today.” India has inarguably abolished slavery and its modern variants such as bonded labour, human trafficking and forced marriages. But it is equally true that the enforcement of these laws leaves much to be desired. The crime of modern slavery includes the act of recruiting, harbouring, transporting, providing or obtaining a person for compelled labour or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud or coercion. It permeates most conceivable levels of supply chains far beyond the trade for sexual exploitation. A rare rescue of 25 bonded labourers last week, for instance, revealed that they had been recruited from Madhya Pradesh, after being given loans ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 2,000, transported to Rajasthan and forced to work as field workers without any pay for seven years.

While methods of mapping modern slavery can be disputed, its prevalence cannot be denied. There are no national figures on the number of people in slavery in India, but the Ministry of Labour and Employment recently announced plans to identify, rescue and help over 18 million bonded labourers by 2030. Given this ground reality, going into an absolute denial mode, as the Modi government seems inclined to, can be counterproductive. It is important to first understand critical aspects of the crime, and then identify the scope of policy interventions. The trade in these modern slaves transgresses state and national borders and the perpetrators are constantly reinventing themselves. It is high time policies to combat them followed suit, and went a step ahead.