DCW busts trafficking racket, rescues 3 minors

Return to frontpage

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.

‘Unregulated’

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

Advertisements

NIA likely to investigate human trafficking cases

nia-likely-to-probe-human-trafficking-casesPUBLISHED IN ECONOMIC TIMES

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.

Trade license mandatory for performers in the song and dance bars in Siliguri in North Bengal

x12-bar-dancers-3.jpg.pagespeed.ic.w65RmbUBwg
Now artistes performing in dance and song bars in Siliguri in North Bengal, will require trade license from the Siliguri Municipal Corporation. The Corporation has made it mandatory for all commercial performers including singers and dancers.

Incidentally, song and dance bars have started mushrooming in this North Bengal town. At times these bars have come under the scanner for indulging in alleged illegal activities. The geographical location of Siliguri, the region with four international borders and Siliguri being the gateway to the North East makes it highly vulnerable. Human trafficking including child labour, prostitution, drug trafficking are some of the menaces steadily on the rise in Siliguri. “There is a directive from the State Government that trade license is mandatory for commercial artistes including singers and dancers performing in song and dance bars. It will help keep tab on the performers along with the owners of such bars,” stated Kamal Agarwal, Councillor in charge of the trade license department of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation.
For getting a trade license the performers have to submit identification documents including PAN card, Adhar card, EPIC or Ration card along with details of the person or persons they are working under and the trade license of the business establishment they are performing in. Letters communicating this decision have been dispatched to the song and dance bars. “We will be able to keep check on whether minors are performing or being used in the bars; where the performers originally hail from and many other such details. In case of any untoward incidents or police cases these details come handy,” stated Agarwal. Very soon a meeting will be held by the Municipal Corporation to be attended by representatives of these song and dance bars along with the police, added Agarwal.

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.

 

Benaami’s fight against human trafficking and unsafe migration gives Chanho a new identity

Image result for times of india logo

KHUNTI (JHARKHAND):

download (1).jpg

Khunti

With her daughter Roshni tied on her back, “benaami” (nameless) sat in the darkness of her mud and straw hut. The floor freshly swept with cow-dung and mud was still soft and cool. The cattle outside were restless as the rain threatened to drench the wood neatly piled to prepare the next meal. Inside the hut this 28-year-old mother held out a colourful toy to keep Roshni busy. Benaami appeared like any other tribal woman trying to live day to day at the mercy of nature and news of work possibilities in cities they have never heard of but seek out in the hope of surviving beyond the seasonal crop. Slowly she opened up and in the conversation that followed it turned out that in her name, Benaami carries the story of a birth and life of a migrant family forced to leave the rural village in the forest to embrace a life as daily wagers in unsafe work conditions in urban cities.

download

Benaami grew up to call herself Anjali with her daughter Roshni on the move to build awareness.Village Chanho in Karra Block survives on barter system for many things.

Born in a brick kiln in Nadia district of West Bengal where her parents toiled hard as migrant daily wagers, she was deprived of the traditional tribal ceremony of giving a newborn a name nine days after birth. Days, months and years passed by as she grew without a formal name. She moved between the village and the brick kiln with her parents from season to season supplementing their income by working as a child labour. She changed schools but never gave up on education. A bright student, Benaami grew to give herself a name she liked and today she identifies herself as Anjali Kachhap even though many still refer to her as Benaami in her village as going by tribal tradition she never got a name. She comes from the Oraon tribe.

A resident of Chanho village of Karra block, Anjali’s village is tucked deep in the interiors and can be reached only through muddy paths amidst fields and forest. Just as wild elephants are a serious cause of concern in Chanho, this village like most others in Khunti district live under the dark shadow of maoist groups.

Master

Women and young girls gather to discuss concerns related to unsafe migration at a Sakhi Saheli club meeting at a village.

Cautious of the challenges her environment poses, Anjali has chosen to rise above her difficulties to build an identity. While she hopped from school to school with her migrant parents, her energy caught the attention of social activists from voluntary organization Association for Social and Human Awareness (ASHA) who put her in a residential school for children in need of care and protection. Anjali surprised everyone when she not only chose to go for higher studies but picked up geography as her specialisation at a private college in Torpa and then joined ASHA to fight against unsafe migration and human trafficking. “I studied Geography because I wanted to know about the world and the places that make it what it is,” Anjali says with confidence. She tells that the bridge that connects her village to Torpa was not there when she was studying in college and she use to swim across from her village, change her clothes and attend class. Her parents still work go to the brick kiln for work when the crop season is over.

download (2).jpg

Kachhap’s daughter is missing, authorities have failed to help so now he turns to Benaami to help find her.

A graduate married to a contractor from a nearby village, Anjali now leads the Sakhi Saheli club initiative in villages of Karra block. She travels across villages to spread the message to “stop trafficking” and promote “safe migration”. Mobile phones are neither common nor easy to connect to here so women and young girls spread the word about a meeting of the Sakhi Saheli Club by going around the village and schedule the sessions over the weekend. It is here that they share details of those planning to migrate, cases of missing and other concerns. Three years back, in a survey steered by Anjali across 20 villages the community identified 85 girls who had migrated for work to Raigarh, Raipur, Bilaspur, Nagpur and Surat. It turned out that some of the girls who went to Surat were sexually abused and had become pregnant. These shocking findings reinforced the community’s faith in the need to protect their villages from traffickers and exploitative employers and seek action against violators.

Anjali tells young girls are migrating for work as domestic workers, daily wagers in brick kilns, cloth mills and construction sites. Cases of children going missing, unsafe migration and abuse by traffickers on the prowl abound across villages in Khunti district are not uncommon.

Sharing her experience as someone who understands the dangers of unsafe migration, Anjali tells that the villagers seeking work go everywhere. The job market ranges from Ranchi, districts of West Bengal, Orissa, to Delhi in north, Mumbai and Nagpur in the west and Bangalore in the south.

To reinforce her point, Anjali pointed at a relative in her teens sitting next to her. The minor too works at a brick kiln. The girl was back home now as there is work to be done in the fields. Shyly the girl started sharing the details of her work day at the brick kiln and it turned out that to earn Rs 100 she had to ferry a 1000 bricks from the kiln to the stocking space. She said she carried anywhere up to 10 bricks on her head in one round. When asked if she wanted to do this work, she shook her head to indicate that she did not like the work but had no choice.
Move around the quiet village and it turns out that barter system is still a way of life for most needs and ready cash is uncommon. Ask around and one is told that after October the villages see an exodus as the youth, especially girls head for cities in search of work and if they don’t end up in the trap of traffickers who have intermediaries in the villages itself, these migrants will return when they are required to join the village work force to harvest the crop and prepare the fields for the fresh crop. Most are daily wagers and not farm owners so they live from day to day.

Anjali proudly tells that Chanho now has an active Village Child Protection Committee and efforts are being made to make villagers aware of welfare schemes for the Scheduled Tribes and link people to the benefits that can help them.

 As we walk around the village a man walks up and identifies himself as Jugia Kachhap. His daughter is missing and he only knows that she left the village for work in Delhi. He has complained to the Police but is yet to get help. He tries to find hope in Anjali and her team and rushes into his hut to bring out a photograph of his daughter. Like Kacchap many parents wait for children in villages across the districts of Jharkhand who left for work and are yet to return.

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.

Representational Image 

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

b6001a17-ad11-42ef-b5e6-e09b36955fa1Wallpaper2

Representational Image 

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.