Teenage tribal girl travels to Delhi to help lead raid on placement agency

SHAKTI VAHINIPUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

An 18-year old tribal girl Sunita Kumari (name changed) helped the Delhi police conduct raids on an illegal placement agency in Taimur Nagar near New Friends Colony (NFC) a year after she had been trafficked from Jharkhand to Delhi to work in the city. Earlier, this week the girl had travelled from Khunti in Jharkhand to Delhi with officials of Anti Human Trafficking Unit of her home district to help identify the personnel running the placement agency Mamta Placement Agency.

“Initially, Mukesh who ran the agency treated me alright and gave me responsibilities of staff at the agency. My work consisted of accompanying the girls and boys – many of them minors – to houses where we had placed them as domestic workers. But a few months later, Mukesh confiscated my mobile phone and broke it. When I said I wanted to leave, he threatened me saying he had all my school documents such as my class X certificates etc. Then I decided to plan an escape and also get my certificates back from him somehow,” said Sunita.

She said she had travelled from Delhi to Bihar with the other staff of the placement agency to a village they were visiting in Banke and fled from there to return to her village in Jharkhand. Three months after returning home, she approached the district labour department of the district and made a complaint about the Delhi-based placement agency. The labour department directed her to the district Anti Human Trafficking Unit and she traveled to Delhi with police officials and NGO Diya Sewa Sansathan.

“I had worked briefly as a housekeeper at a hotel in Bangalore and there I had learned that Labour Department is meant to assist workers who feel cheated. I had remembered that and complained at the district level” said Sunita. She said that she had left her home in Torpa in Khunti after she failed to clear class XII examinations in 2013. “When I took the police to the agency’s address, I knew they will try to threaten me but I will make sure I get my wage dues back as well,” she said.

Sunita Kumari said she had already applied to appear for class XII examinations in her home district again.

Three persons were arrested from the placement agency premises, though the manager Mukesh Kumar was still absconding.

The National Commission for Women had proposed a draft Regulation of Employment Agencies 2007 but it is yet to be accepted and there are no national laws governing the placement agencies at present. Rishikant of NGO Shakti Vahini who was part of the team that went along with the police for the raid said there was a need for a policy on domestic workers.

“It is commendable that this girl was willing to come all the way from another state to Delhi to give information on her employer and she was so keen to get her school certificates back. We will extend to her all help in getting her wages back as well,” said Inspector Aradhana Singh of Anti Human Trafficking Unit.

“When I said I wanted to leave, he(Mukesh) threatened me saying he had all my school documents etc. Then I decided to escape and also get my certificates back

Sunita Kumari (name changed)

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