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

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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.

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Human trafficking racket busted, four minor girls rescued

The Tribune

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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.

Interstate human trafficking gang busted in Churu

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Police raided places in Churu and Jhunjhunu leading to the arrest of five- Rajkumar Meghwal (30), Jhabar Meghwal (40), Sintu Swami (26), Vijay Singh (25) and Sher Singh (26).
Churu police busted an interstate human trafficking gang and arrested five people allegedly involved in the activity.

Churu police busted an interstate human trafficking gang and arrested five people allegedly involved in the activity.(Getty Images/Stock photo (REPRESENTATIVE PIC))

Churu police busted an interstate human trafficking gang on Saturday and arrested five people allegedly involved in the activity. Police also freed three women who were victims of the racket.

The police on Thursday were tipped off that a woman who was brought by the gang to Chhajusar village, has escaped from the place and was roaming homeless in the city, a press note from the Churu superintendent of police (SP) Barhat Rahul Manhardan said.

With the help of Aapni Sakhi, the mobile team of women personnel, police reached the trafficked woman, who confirmed that she was brought to the district by the gang. A team of senior police officials was formed by the SP to look into the matter.

The woman, who hailed from Jharkhand, said that it was an interstate gang that targeted poor and helpless women. The gang would abduct them and then they would be trafficked to various parts of the country.

Police raided places in Churu and Jhunjhunu leading to the arrest of five- Rajkumar Meghwal (30), Jhabar Meghwal (40), Sintu Swami (26), Vijay Singh (25) and Sher Singh (26).

“While Rajkumar and Jhabar were part of the gang, the other three had bought the women from them for
Rs 1.5-2 lakh,” said additional SP Keshar Singh. The main members of the gang were in Delhi and would supply women to Rajkumar and Jhabar, who in turn would supply them to people in Rajasthan, he added.

Two other women from Delhi and Punjab, were also freed. Churu police will send a team to Delhi to scout for others involved in the racket.

 

3 more arrested for human trafficking

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Three more accused in international human trafficking racket were arrested by unit III crime branch on Friday and Saturday. While Pyara Singh Gotara was arrested on Friday, Jarnel Singh Gotara and Rajinder Singh Atwal were picked up on Saturday.

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The number of arrested accused has now gone up to ten. Police said that 57 youngsters were trafficked from the city to North America, Europe, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi, apart from Maharashtra.

According to police, of the ten arrested, two accused would create fake bona fide and school leaving certificates. The youngsters were trafficked to shops, construction sites, hotels and malls as workers and for driving taxies. So far, 20 trafficked persons have been traced while hunt for other accused and victims is continuing.

Teenager crushed under truck

 Seventeen-year-old Prasanjeet Meshram, a labourer, who was riding pillion on a bike, died on the spot after being hit by an unidentified truck in front of Umiya gate at Kalamna on Saturday.
Prasanjeet was sitting between rider Mukesh Kosare and his cousin Ganesh Bawne when the trio was returning from Bhandara.
All the three fell off after being hit by the truck. Kosare and Bawne sustained minor injuries. However, Prasanjeet succumbed to head injuries.
Kalamna police have registered a case of negligence in driving against the unknown truck driver.

 

Critical features missing from proposed anti-human trafficking law: Hardeep Puri

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PUBLISHED IN THE HINDUSTAN TIMES

India’s first anti-human trafficking law should have provision to penalise commercial carriers and transport companies if they fail to ensure that people travelling to the country are carrying requisite travel documents, Union urban affairs minister Hardeep Singh Puri has recommended.

The provision exists in the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crimes, which puts the onus on commercial carriers in ensuring that passengers are in possession of requisite travel documents. India is a signatory to the UN convention.

In a letter to law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad last week, Puri has highlighted how “certain critical features” of the UN Protocol are missing from the proposed domestic law. Puri is part of the group of ministers (GoM) set up to review the anti human-trafficking bill

“The UN Protocol provides trafficking against women, along with minors be given due recognition. The current proposal, while adequately addressing tracking of minors, does not provide the same salience to crimes against women,” says Puri’s letter, a copy of which has been reviewed by HT.

Besides, Article 6, Section (1) of the UN Protocol states that “each state party shall protect the privacy and identity of victims of trafficking persons”.

“The proposed bill is silent on the need to secure the identity of victims,” Puri’s letter notes.

The draft Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2017, piloted by the Union women and child development (WCD) ministry, proposes punishment of up to 14 years for traffickers, measures to rehabilitate victims, and the mandatory registration of placement agencies that recruit and place domestic help.

In a first, it also treats a trafficked person pushed into prostitution as a victim, instead of the prevalent practice of treating them as criminals like the traffickers and facing jail term of up to seven years.

The bill was referred to a four-member GoM, headed by external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj last month when it came up for approval before the cabinet.

“It was referred to the GoM after Swaraj and Puri flagged incongruities in the bill,” said a senior government official familiar with the development.

WCD minister Maneka Gandhi and law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad are the other two members of the GoM.

“Once the GoM gives its report, we will go to the cabinet for approval,” said a senior WCD ministry official who did not want to be quoted.

Human Trafficking: 4 GH Girls Rescued From Bihar

The Shillong Times

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The Railway Protection Force (RPF) on Sunday rescued four teenage girls of Garo Hills while being trafficked to Muzaffarpur in Bihar. 
North Garo Hills Police has dispatched a women’s team to bring back the four girls to Meghalaya.
The police said illegal trafficking of men and women is a major problem as it continues unabated in Meghalaya.
According to the police, the four girls went missing soon after the New Year celebrations. An unidentified man from North Garo Hills lured the girls to come along with him to Muzaffarpur on the promise of giving them good jobs there with hefty salaries.
One of the parents filed an FIR with Mendipathar police station after receiving a call from his daughter that she was being taken to Muzaffarpur on the promise of a high salaried job.
After the FIR was filed, the police contacted a Church leader of North Garo Hills for help who, in turn, contacted Impulse NGO.
Subsequently, the Commissioner of Railway Protection Force (RPF) and IGP of Delhi Police for NE were contacted to launch a rescue mission.
The Impulse NGO also contacted NGOs and social welfare organisations in West Bengal and Bihar resulting in the rescue of the four girls.

Bride-trafficking: Pradhans to keep track of Uttarakhand girls married in other states

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In a unique initiative to clamp down on bride trafficking from Uttarakhand, the state commission for women has roped in village pradhans who will keep track of girls from their respective areas married to men in other states. The pradhans will also submit a “well-being report” of the girls once in three months to the commission. In case the women go “missing”, the rights panel and police will reach out to her in-laws.

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The project has been launched in Uttarkashi whose Moori and Purola blocks see rampant bride trafficking.

Ramindri Mandrawal, secretary, Uttarakhand State Commission For Women, said, “There are some areas of Uttarakhand where daughters are sold by poor parents. In some cases, parents are fooled by traffickers who pose as matchmakers to get the girls married to men in other states. The women are then treated as commodities and slaves. Village pradhans will now keep an eye on this.”

Hundreds of young girls in northern India are lured or sold into involuntary marriage every year, according to a 2015 report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The women are bartered at prices that vary depending on their age, beauty and virginity, and exploited under conditions that amounts to a modern form of slavery. The report cited findings of a study by NGO Shakti Vahini which said that victims were mostly from Uttarakhand, AssamWest BengalJharkhand, Odisha, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.

In Uttarakhand, many cases of bride trafficking from the state have come to light in the recent past. Earlier in November, two men from Jammu and one from Nepal were arrested by Pithoragarh police’s anti-human trafficking cell along the Indo-Nepal border for allegedly trafficking a minor Nepalese girl on the pretext of marriage.

Uttarakhand shares a porous 263-km-long India-Nepal border in Pithoragarh and Champawat, and the commission has plans to ask pradhans from these districts as well to help curb bride trafficking.

Meanwhile, many pradhans from villages in Uttarkashi said they were willing to create awareness and “protect” girls from sham marriages. The more forthcoming ones among them said that they would use social media to stay connected to the girls.

Arvind Kumar, pradhan of Math village in Purola block, said, “Keeping tabs on newlyweds may sound awkward but it is only by taking joint responsibility that we can eliminate bad elements from society. The villages here are small and girls are few so it is easy to do this.”

 Another pradhan, Raji Devi from Dhundhi village in Dunda block, added, “Such combined community initiatives will deter traffickers as well as parents who sell their daughters. We will create WhatsApp groups to connect with girls married in other states.”
 Some anti-trafficking experts, however, cautioned that such crimes were highly organized and pradhans should be trained first.
 Anti-human trafficking activist Gyanendra Kumar said, “Bride trafficking is a heinous and organized crime and those trying to put curbs on it need to be trained. In many cases, parents themselves sell off their daughters with local people acting as spotters for them. This network needs to be broken first.”