DWAIPAYAN GHOSH , TIMES OF INDIA
Nemai Sardar (33), a resident of West Bengal, pretended to run a domestic servant placement agency in the capital and used to lure girls from West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar by promising them high salaries. “Once in Delhi, these girls were turned into bonded labourers with very little wage. We are probing whether there were physically exploited, too,” said P S Khuswah, additional DCP (crime). The crime branch of Delhi Police, along with a CID team of the West Bengal police and the non-government organization Shakti Vahini, carried out a raid on Kalka Mail on Thursday and rescued five girls brought from North 24 Parganas. Raju, Sardar’s associate accompanying the girls, gave the police team the slip. However, he left behind some papers that helped the police to zero in on Sardar and arrest him from his hideout in southwest Delhi’s Najafgarh on Friday.
The cops also found in the hideout several incriminating documents, including photos of hundreds of girls who have gone missing from West Bengal in the past several years. A hunt is still on to trace more victims and two other human traffickers, Rajesh and Sushma. According to sources, the accused had allegedly been operating for the past several years. He started functioning from Naraina but shifted base to Najafgarh five years ago to evade detection.
The operation was carried out on the directive of the Calcutta high court following a habeas corpus petition moved by the mother of a girl who had gone missing from South 24 Parganas last year. The girl, who was allegedly smuggled out through a trafficking network of which Sardar was reportedly a part, is yet to be traced. Raids were earlier conducted in Ghaziabad, Gurgaon and Hapur in co-ordination with the local police.
Rishi Kant of the NGO Shakti Vahini said girls were brought to Delhi in batches and by trains originating from Howrah. Many of them were also sold off as brides in Haryana, he said.
During interrogation, Sardar reportedly said that when he entered into the trade in 2000, he would get Rs 2,500 per girl as his commission. “Now he gets Rs 10,000 per girl,” Kant said. Sardar also claimed that his agency was registered.
Based on the worldwide data on trafficking, 43% of the victims are forced into commercial sexual exploitation, out of which 98% are women and girls and the majority belongs to the age group of 18 to 24 years.
According to Unicef, India harbours 19% of the world’s child population and almost 42% of the total world population. According to the International Labour Organisation, there is a larger child labour force in India than anywhere else in the world. Official Indian statistics put the total number of child workers at 11 million full-time labourers and 10 million part-time ones. Unofficial figures, however, vary between 55 million and 90 million. The Child Labour Act was passed in 1986, which bans children below 14 years from being hired for any labour.
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