Battered Khunti girl rescued

154447890PUBLISHED IN THE TELEGRAPH

New Delhi, Nov. 22: All she remembers is that she was working as a domestic help for about a week in a three-storied house with 10 to 12 members.

Thankfully now, 15-year-old Payel (name changed) is going back home to Khunti, thanks to a couple of Good Samaritans who found her crying on the streets of Mayur Vihar, Delhi, on October 23, battered and bruised, and handed her over to the police.

“It was extremely difficult to trace Payel’s village,” said police sub-inspector Aradhana Singh, head of the anti-trafficking unit in Khunti, who is leading a team from Jharkhand that reached Delhi yesterday to take her back home, along with four other girls who had also been kidnapped from the state.

“She can’t tell the address, but it turns out that her village is in a Maoist-infested hamlet in the interiors of Khunti,” said the policewoman who has pieced together a likely chain of events that led to Payel’s abduction to Delhi.

Payel was at a village fair near her home in Khunti when three women picked her up and put her on a bus to Ranchi.

From there, she was brought to Delhi by train. Days later, she found herself employed as a domestic help in an east Delhi house.

On October 23, a few local residents spotted her on the streets of Mayur Vihar and brought her to the police station from where she was transferred to Snehalaya, a shelter home for girls in north Delhi.

“As a domestic help, Payel was made to do household chores for over 12 hours a day. She was abused and beaten up if she did not follow orders. But she is very confused and, therefore, unable to provide details of the women who had brought her to Delhi,” said Singh.

Based on her conversations with Payel, Singh believes, she was abducted a fortnight before October 23 when she was brought to the Mayur Vihar police station.

Payel, who dropped out of school after her father and siblings died of illness, can’t believe she will be going home. “I want to go to my mother. She is alone there… just like I am here,” she said.

Authorities at Snehalaya, where Payel has been staying for a month, said she keeps to herself. “Most of the time she cries,” said an employee.

Sub-inspector Singh said they had traced four other girls who had been abducted from Jharkhand and had been employed as domestic helps in various parts of Delhi. While two of the girls are from Chaibasa, the others are from Khunti and Gumla.

One of them was brought to Delhi by the network operated by Panna Lal Mahto, a trafficking kingpin who was arrested from Delhi last month.

Now, all of them, including Payel, will be heading for Ranchi on Monday. Their families would be asked to pick them once they reached the state capital, said Singh.

Those working for NGO Shakti Vahini, that helped the police team track the victims in Delhi, rued the fact that trafficking of young tribal girls from Jharkhand was a continuing menace.

“It does not seem the Jharkhand government is serious (about curbing trafficking). Otherwise, the district administrations would be much more vigilant at exit points to keep a check on such cases,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini.

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