Assam slips in rescuing kids – 93 children trafficked in 2016 untraced

By The Telegraph:

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Assam’s performance in tracking its trafficked children and women was dismal in 2016, compared to 2015, data tabled in the Lok Sabha has revealed.

The data, tabled recently, reveals that 130 children were trafficked from Assam in 2016, of whom only 37 were rescued. The fate of 93 remains unknown. Comparatively, of the 129 children trafficked in 2015, 101 were rescued, a success rate of 78 per cent compared to 28 per cent in 2016.

The trend in terms of rescue of women is similar. The data says 163 women were trafficked from the state in 2016, of whom only 63 were rescued, a success rate of 38 per cent, whereas in 2015, 187 women were trafficked from the state of whom 137 were rescued, a success rate of 73 per cent.

Trafficking is a serious problem in Assam. The state had recorded the highest number of human trafficking cases in the country in 2015 and continues to be among the top trafficking zones.

Union minister of state for home affairs Hansraj Gangaram Ahir had told the Lok Sabha recently that police and public order are state subjects. As such, the registration, investigation and prevention of human trafficking is the responsibility of the state government. “However, the Centre supplements the efforts of the state governments by issuing advisories from time to time and providing financial assistance for setting up anti-human trafficking units at the district level. Besides, training is provided to state police personnel to check trafficking. The Centre has also signed an MoU on prevention of human trafficking with Bangladesh and UAE,” he said.

Rishi Kant, spokesperson for Delhi-based anti-trafficking NGO Shakti Vahini, said a large number of women and children from Assam and other northeastern states are trafficked to different states in the country. Hence inter-state collaboration of law enforcement agencies and civil society groups needs to be strengthened further to trace and rescue trafficked children and women and to arrest the persons involved in such crimes.

Most of the children from the state end up at illegal placement agencies in Delhi and Mumbai, which employ them as labourers and even push some in the flesh trade.

A police source said most of the children and women are lured by traffickers with the promise of a better life. The traffickers mostly target poor families from marginalised communities and those rendered homeless by floods and ethnic violence.

In 2014, the Supreme Court, during the hearing of a PIL by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan, had specifically asked Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh governments to trace the whereabouts of 12,591 children missing since 2011. The NGO, led by Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, had sought the court’s intervention in tracing the missing children.

According to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime report, 7,788 children went missing from Assam between 2009 and 2014. Of them, 3,569 children were traced.

A published report of the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights says 4,754 children, who went missing in the state between 2012 and October 2014, have remained untraced.

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Nagaon woman rescued from gang

By The Telegraph:

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Representational Image

Two persons have been arrested for their involvement in an inter-state trafficking syndicate and three women, including one from Assam’s Nagaon district, were rescued, Delhi police said today.

A special task force, comprising Delhi, Assam, Rajasthan and Haryana police officers, formed on May 8, arrested two members of the syndicate – Altaf, 28, who hails from Jehanabad in Bihar and Ram Kesh alias Kishan, 30, who hails from Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh – from Rohtak in Haryana on Thursday. The team rescued the 27-year-old woman from Nagaon district, another woman from Calcutta and a minor from Bhagalpur.

The police team was formed on the basis of an FIR filed at Kampur police station in Nagaon district on May 5 by family members of the 27-year-old woman, who went missing after reaching New Delhi railway station.

“Assam police informed us on the alleged abduction and considering the sensitivity of the case, we set up the STF and started search operations. Based on intelligence reports, we raided Haryana with the help of Haryana police and apprehended the duo where, the other two ladies were kept,” deputy commissioner of police (South) Ishwar Singh said today.

Singh said the syndicate members used to abduct single woman travellers from New Delhi railway station and sell them to Haryana-based traffickers for forced marriage and prostitution.

Singh said a couple, Sunil and Payal Jha, based at Munirka in New Delhi, were the kingpins of the syndicate. They are absconding.

“The duo are on the run but they will be apprehended soon. The gang had hurriedly sent the Assam woman home and she reached Nagaon yesterday. In the raid, we also recovered her laptop and mobile phone,” Singh said.

The arrested duo reached Kampur police station today where their statements were recorded. Tomorrow, they will be sent back to New Delhi where they will be remanded in custody, Nagaon police said.

‘This is your Taj Mahal, you have been sold’: Traffickers lured six Bengal girls with trip to famous landmark, before telling them to prepare for life in a BROTHEL

By Mail Today:

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The girls, aged 17-19, from Sundarbans, did not tell their families about the trip. Traffickers lured them by saying they would be taken to the Taj Mahal. Instead, they were taken to Agra’s red light district, beaten and raped. Police rescued the stricken girls from tiny, dark and foul-smelling bunkers and tunnels in the brothel.

The mesmerising Taj Mahal, considered a monument of love across the world, is being used as bait by sex traffickers to catch young girls from far-flung parts of India and push them into prostitution.

Authorities have recently rescued six Muslim teenagers belonging to the tribal Sundarbans area of West Bengal, who were trapped by a prostitution syndicate. They were lured with an offer of being taken on a tour of the stunning 17th Century mausoleum in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra city.

The girls, aged between 17 and 19, said they had not told their families about the promised trip.

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The mesmerizing Taj Mahal, considered a monument of love across the world, was used as bait by sex traffickers to lure teenage girls from a far-flung part of India

They were first brought by bus to the Sealdah Railway Station in Kolkata, then by train to New Delhi, later Ghaziabad and finally to Agra’s red-light area of Kashmiri Bazaar.

When the girls raised questions about the suspicious location, their traffickers allegedly said, ‘This is your Taj Mahal. You have been sold. Be prepared to live all your life here now.’

The girls were rescued from the tiny, dark and foul-smelling bunkers and tunnels in the brothel on May 23, and at least 13 people have been arrested, including the female bordello owner, Meena.

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The girls, aged 17-19, from Sundarbans, did not tell their families about the trip (picture for representation only)

The trafficked girls were sent home with the Bengal police team on Friday.

Assistant sub-inspector Prabir Boll of the Mathurapur Police Station in West Bengal said: ‘We received a missing complaint from one of the girl’s mother on March 24 following which we put her mobile on surveillance.

‘We discovered that the number was active in Uttar Pradesh, Agra. Unfortunately, by the time we could establish links with our counterparts there and organise decoy customers, the girls had already been much exploited. They had been beaten with lathis and brooms, repeatedly raped and threatened into submission.’

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Innocent young girls – who survive on barely two meals a day, have little or no education and have not seen anything beyond their small villages – are most desperate to escape to bigger cities and towns

Lack of livelihood means takes thousands of girls and boys out of Bengal’s border areas every year.

While some girls are exploited as poorly paid and abused housemaids, several others end up in Delhi’s GB Road and other red-light areas in India.

Investigators say although shocking, this is just a new modus operandi in fetching girls from one of the most impoverished areas of India – North and South 24 Parganas.

Innocent young girls – who survive on barely two meals a day, have little or no education and have not seen anything beyond their small villages – are most desperate to escape to bigger cities and towns.

‘Agra has become a crucial junction in the trafficking triangle of Bengal, Delhi and Mumbai. This is like a sabzi mandi (supermarket) where girls are brought and traded, with the fact that it is a heavy tourist spot providing them easy cover or camouflage,’ said BS Tyagi, circle officer of the Chhata Police Station in Agra, which raided the brothel.

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According to government data, almost 20,000 women and children were victims of trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25 per cent from last year (Photo for representation only)

‘Girls are taken several kilometres away so that language becomes a barrier and they cannot talk to police or customers.

‘Bengali girls are brought to UP and UP girls taken to interiors of Bengal. It’s a highly organised business with tentacles spread far and wide,’ he added.

Rishi Kant, co-founder of the anti-human trafficking NGO, Shakti Vahini, which counselled the victims, said: ‘These girls told us that they were taken in an AC bus from Ghaziabad to Agra which shows that these people have money power also.’

According to government data, almost 20,000 women and children were victims of trafficking in India in 2016, a rise of nearly 25 per cent from the previous year, with the highest number of cases recorded in West Bengal.

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Men often coerce gullible schoolgirls into sharing their mobile numbers, then taking them out for a drink or snacks and mix sedatives in them. By the time the girls wake up, they are already on the way to Delhi or Mumbai

Ajay Ranade, IG South Bengal, told Mail Today: ‘Sadly, human trafficking is a rampant problem in the state. For the same reason we have recently started the Swayamsiddha (self-empowerment) programme in class VIII to XII in 500-700 schools in our area.

‘We hold counselling classes and have set up drop boxes in schools so that girls can report to us if they are being forced into child marriage or if any boy is stalking or harassing them.

‘Men often coerce gullible schoolgirls into sharing their mobile numbers, then taking them out for a drink or snacks and mix sedatives in them. By the time the girls wake up, they are already on the way to Delhi or Mumbai.’

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Police nab woman who sold minor girls as sex slaves

By Hindustan Times:

Reliable sources said that Goddo’s partner in the crime was one Lallan, who ran an illegal brothel in Varanasi.
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Police here on Monday night arrested a woman child trafficker, who acted as a pimp and lured minor tribal girls from the state’s countryside allegedly in association with police, local influential leaders on the pretext of offering cushy jobs and eventually sold them to brothels in Uttar Pradesh.

Goddo Oraon, in her forties, hailing from Ranchi suburb, is being interrogated at an undisclosed location. Based on her confessions, Ranchi senior superintendent of police, Kuldip Dwivedi has sent a team to Varanasi and Pratapgarh districts of Uttar Pradesh to raid the brothels and rescue minor girls who had been sold and forced into the flesh trade.

Goddo’s evil deeds came to fore after a 10-year-old minor girl from a Ranchi’s rural suburb, who was sold to a brothel in Pratapgarh, somehow managed to flee and reached home on Monday to expose the trafficking and sex racket the woman ran. The victim also narrated her ordeals before Ranchi’s senior police officials, Child Line and Child Welfare Committee (CWC) officials leading to the trafficker’s arrest.

“We have learnt from the rescued child that Goddo and her accomplices have sold many minor girls to brothels in UP. A team has been sent to rescue the girls. We are also on the lookout for some people who assisted Goddo in the racket. Soon they will be in our net,” Dwivedi said.

Ranchi CWC member Meera Misra said the rescued child has been sent to a hospital for medical examination. “The 10-year-old was sexually exploited and brutally tortured on umpteen occasions. Her body had many injuries. Her private parts had burn marks. She was under severe trauma when she reached us,” Mishra said, raising hope that Goddo’s arrest will pave way for rescue of other girls she had sold in the sex market.

The CWC member said the pimp had done the same to her elder sister, who also managed to flee the captivity of her tormentors in Pratapgarh a few months back. “We have names of at least four girls from Nagri, who are currently in the captivity of brothel owners in Pratapgarh,” she said.

Reliable sources said that Goddo’s partner in the crime was one Lallan, who ran an illegal brothel in Varanasi. Lallan used to dole out big money to Goddo for every girl she delivered to him. Police were also looking for a driver of Janata Bus that operates between Ranchi and Varanasi every night. The girls were trafficked by this bus.

The minor girl who fled from the brothel told CWC that last year—she was nine then—Goddo lured her and four other girls of her village in Nagri police station area to Varanasi promising her good job and enough money to buy valuables like smartphone she dreamt of. Once they reached the holy city, Goddo left her in the house of a middle-aged man where she was told to work as a maid and she disappeared. The man not only raped her but made her sleep with different men at different places.

Soon she discovered that she was in a makeshift brothel in Pratapgarh. “They forced me to sleep with elderly men. Whenever I protested, they undressed and beat me with sticks. On many occasions, they burnt my thighs and private parts with hot iron rods,” she said.

Last weekend, she mustered courage and jumped off from the first floor of the brothel and ran straight to the railway station. There she took a train to Allahabad and somehow managed to get into Garib Rath Express that brought her to Ranchi on Sunday. She met the railway police on train who alerted the CWC in Ranchi.

Father’s woes

The minor survivor’s father said a few months back on getting the information that his daughter had been sold to a brothel, he had travelled to Pratapgarh and pleaded the brothel owner to release her. “They abused and thrashed me before driving me away. I sought locals help but nobody came forward. I feared going to police as it could have risked my daughter’s life. Dejected, I returned,” said the hapless father, a poor farmer. He said the pimp had strong connections with police. “I had gone to local police once but nobody gave a hearing,” he lamented.

Rehabilitation of trafficked children proving to be a challenge

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Inadequate resources, lack of trained personnel including quality counsellors, and ways to mitigate final compensation to the victims are some of the major hurdles that the rehabilitation process faces.

The rehabilitation of trafficked children is proving to be a major challenge for Child Welfare Committees (CWCs), Child Care Institutes (CCIs) and non-governmental organisations working for child welfare and protection across the country. Inadequate resources and techniques, lack of trained personnel including quality counsellors, and ways to mitigate final compensation to the victims of child trafficking are some of the major hurdles that the rehabilitation process faces.

A spurt of over 25% in cases of child trafficking in India since 2015 has put the total number of trafficked children and women in 2016 at 20,000. This has raised questions on the functioning of CCIs and CWCs. CWCs are the district level bodies established by the Central government under the Juvenile Justice Act, and are the sole and final authority for the treatment and rehabilitation of children in need of care and protection. CCIs come under the state governments.

SUPERVISION-NEEDED

The law makes it mandatory for each CWC to inspect the CCIs at least once every month. However, according to Rishi Kant, president of NGO Shakti Vahini, no such monitoring happens. “Inside Delhi’s Naari Niketan, the Delhi Commission for Women chief had to step in to stop the mistreatment of inmates. So what are the regular inspection units doing? There is no system of checks and balances even inside the shelters,” he said.

Meenakshi Ganguly of HAQ, Centre for Child Rights, reiterated the sentiment, saying that while laws regarding inspection are in place, they are not followed in many states.

However, realising the need to ensure effective supervision of CCIs, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) has passed an order asking the members to conduct regular inspection of CCIs, parks and other child related institutions, Ramesh Negi, chairperson of DCPCR told The Sunday Guardian.

Secondly, arrangements for the final rehabilitation of the children (once parents or guardians of the child are identified and verified) by CWCs are ineffective. Junaid Khan, programme director, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, told this newspaper that the NGOs that step in to rehabilitate the trafficked child and the CWC are divided on bearing the cost to escort the children back home. “There are cases when parents are not able to come to the city where the child is sheltered. In such cases, there is no clarity as to who will bear the cost of transportation. While the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) has made arrangements asking a battalion of armed constables to accompany the child, lacunae still exist,” he told this newspaper. Some NGOs have observed that a lot of the children are re-trafficked from their homes.

Third, most of the government-run CCIs have a capacity of 100 people, but keep around 300 children who have access to only limited resources. Rishi Kant argued that the government-run protection homes cannot deny taking children, and that is why the police always end up sending them there, irrespective of the space there is to accommodate children.

However, Rita Singh, member of DCPCR, said, “Hundreds of trafficked children are recovered every day. Where else do you expect us to send them off? There are only three government-run CCIs for girl children in Delhi—Nirmal Chaya, Sanskar Ashram and Kilkari. Our priority is to give these children immediate shelter with the limited resources we have.”

LACK OF TRAUMA COUNSELLORS

The Juvenile Justice Act mandates that a psychologist/counsellor be assigned to look after the trafficked children for their social and mental reintegration. However, most of the times, either the CCIs do not have any qualified counsellors, or it is the police that dons the hat of the counsellor. This, NGOs say, is unacceptable since the practice is not only illegal, but the police also does not know how to counsel a child.

“The problem is that the state or the Central government doesn’t provide funding to the Child Care Institutions. The CCIs can apply for a grant under ICPS (Integrated Child Protection scheme), but a qualified counsellor cannot be hired from the amount they receive,” Junaid Khan said.

However, Khan added that the Department of Women and Child Development is taking help from NGOs like Sun Chetan and Sarthak, to provide counselling support to CCIs.

NO VICTIM COMPENSATION

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Under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act and the revised Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour scheme, victims of child trafficking are entitled to a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 3 lakh. The compensation, which, was a meagre Rs 20,000 until 2016, has been increased under the Central Sector Scheme for the Rehabilitation of Bonded Labour.

“Under the revised scheme, a state’s Labour Department would be as much involved as the Centre. Routing of proposals and release of funds received from the district administration will happen through the state machinery,” Khan said. “But instances of victims actually receiving the compensation are low. The districts do not have enough funds. We are planning to file an RTI to know how much funds districts have and how much of it has been used for victim compensation.”

The cases where a child manages to get his dues are the ones where his/her employer is involved. Under the Minimum Wages Act, the CWCs send an order to the child’s employer, who has to pay the dues and an additional fine. The amount is deposited in the child’s bank account opened by the CWCs, and can be accessed by the child when he turns 18.

“The process is a mess. The cheques that reach the Child Labour Department under the Bonded Labour Scheme keep piling up, without being cleared. Certain cases go to the Supreme Court, which has a separate pool of funds. The compensation is successfully given in such cases, but not everybody has the time or the resources to go to court,” said Sushma Vij, chairperson of Child Welfare Committee, Mayur Vihar.

Many a time, the victims do not know that they are entitled to any compensation. “Uneducated victims and parents are unaware. Since the child cannot contract the compensation before the age of 18, he and his parents give up in the middle of the whole process. More often than not, implementation agencies are not proactive,” said Supreme Court lawyer Vijay Dalmia.

INITIATIVES AND ORDERS

Yet, there is a silver lining. The National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has recently released a handbook on skill development and counselling of staff of child care institutes.

Likewise, the DCPCR, which suo motu monitors cases of child trafficking, has asked the authorities to identify vulnerable areas that have reported the maximum cases of missing or trafficked children.

“We are planning to involve district magistrates, SDMs, and senior officers of the Delhi Police to identify these areas,” Ramesh Negi said.

Recently, the Delhi High Court has issued an order to the state government and to the Department of Women and Child Development, enquiring about the gap in the services being provided to children in CCIs, mostly due to lack of quality staff.

According to Khan, the District Child Protection Units (DCPUs), which are monitored by CWCs, are conducting a survey to gauge the gap between the services being provided to children.

SSB’S ROAD MAP TO CURB HUMAN TRAFFICKING YIELDS FOUR ARRESTS

By The Pioneer:

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In order to curb the menace of human trafficking from across the Indo-Nepal border, the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) has drawn a roadmap along with all stakeholders, including the NGOs, working against human trafficking.

Within a of span of 10 days since the road map was put into place on April 10, the SSB was able to nab four human traffickers and rescue 12 minors from the clutches of human traffickers on three different locations on Indo-Nepal border while crossing over to India.

“Human trafficking is just another name of modern day slavery, wherein the victim involved are forced, coerced and deceived into labour and sexual exploitations, the figures are scary. A workshop was also conducted by SSB in this regard and now this has yielded results by virtue of showing tremendous coordination,” said Archana Ramasundaram, Director General, SSB.

Not only this, the SSB has also signed a MoU with National Skill Development Council (NSDC) for providing skill development and better opportunities to the victims and potential victims so that can they lead an independent life .

As per the road map, emphasis is on use of technology and softwares such as Impulse for better monitoring of the cases and also keeping track of victims, their rehabilitation and prosecution of offenders.

Nepal is primarily considered a country of origin — a source for human trafficking. Victims of trafficking from Nepal move to India or the Middle East or even to Europe.  As per Nepal’s official figures, the Ministry of Women Children and social Welfare of Nepal had identified 26 of Nepal’s 75 districts as trafficking prone. Majority is from the hills, ethnic and schedule castes.

India shares 1751 kms  of porous borders with Nepal and 699 kms of porous borders with Bhutan and the SSB is mandated by Central Government to guard Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan borders. After the deployment of SSB on these borders human trafficking has been curtailed to considerable extent.

“The common place understanding of trafficking as akin to prostitution is often responsible for general ignorance to the other forms of exploitations such as child labour, slavery, adoption, organ trading, sex tourism etc. the complexity of the phenomenon, its multidimensional nature, its rapid spread worldwide and confusion surrounding the concept has made urgent and essential need to understand the various aspect of the phenomenon,” the DG said.

The workshop was intended to bring along all the stakeholders fighting against the menace of human trafficking to a common platform from across Indo-Nepal and Indo-Bhutan Border and also in the area of responsibility of SSB which extends up to 15 kms from the International border.

 

Woman trafficked from Assam rescued

By The Hindu:

A 35-year-old woman, who was allegedly trafficked from Assam after being promised a job in a private company, was rescued from a flat at Unitech Residency in Sector 33 here.

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The woman was working as a domestic help in the flat. She had allegedly not been paid her dues and was also not allowed to step outside the house. She has also accused her employer of not giving her enough food.

No legal action

SHO, Sadar Bazar, Inspector Vijay Yadav said no case has been registered in this regard since the woman refused to initiate legal action against her employer or the placement agency.

The woman was rescued on August 18 after Shakti Vahini, an NGO working for trafficked women, received information from Seema Suraksha Bal in Assam that a resident of Chirang district was taken to Gurugram and held captive in a house. The woman had purportedly called her family to tell them she was in Gurugram, but could not give the complete address. She had borrowed a phone from someone in the housing society to make the call. The NGO then contacted the police, which mounted technical surveillance and rescued the woman.

Salary Reduced

“The woman told our counsellor that an acquaintance in Assam had lured her with a job offer in Delhi and put her in touch with one Puja. Once she was in Delhi, Puja told her that she would be given a job in a company as a sweeper, but instead placed her as a domestic help. Puja took ₹25,000 from the employer as commission. Her salary was fixed at ₹7,000 per month, but for two months, she was paid only ₹5,000,” said Nazish from Shakti Vahini.

The police summoned Puja, who runs a placement agency at Kotla Mubarakpur in Delhi, but was let off after the victim refused to pursue legal action in the case. The woman has been moved to a shelter home in Delhi and her family has been informed.