‘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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Didi used CCTVs to record my every move, fed me after seeing footage, says ‘torture’ victim

By The Indian Express:

The child, employed as a domestic help in Faridabad over the last three years, was rescued Wednesday when she attempted to climb into the neighbor's balcony to escape further torture.

“One time, in anger, didi took off all my clothes and threw hot water from the geyser on my back. Didi hit me on the head with a rolling pin and split it open. She hit me on my hand with loha (iron) or the rolling pin. She tied my hands behind my back with the doggy belt and my legs with a chunni. Then she tied a polythene on my mouth to stop me from breathing.” This is the statement of a 13-year-old domestic help to the Haryana State Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

The child, employed as a domestic help in Faridabad over the last three years, was rescued Wednesday when she attempted to climb into the neighbour’s balcony to escape further torture. She fell off and landed on the balcony of an empty flat below. She was rescued five hours late after her employer alerted guards, police said.

The child came to Faridabad from Patna in 2014, and started working as a domestic help at the flat of 22-year-old Sneha Yadav, an engineering student at Manav Rachna University. Sneha was granted bail by a district court on Friday. The girl’s parents, who reached Delhi on Thursday, work in the mines of Sneha’s father, Sanjay Yadav, in Patna. They hadn’t seen their daughter for the last three years — a period during which she was allegedly tortured and beaten.

The alleged ordeal inside house C-1101, however, remained hidden from residents of Kanishka Towers in Faridabad’s Sector 34. The flat is located on the top floor, and only two of the five other flats in the tower are occupied.

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Officials from the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights at the building in Faridabad. (Express Photo)

“She (Sneha) never seemed interested in interacting, so we did not make an effort either. We never heard anything from the flat, but that could be because the child’s screams were muffled,” said a resident who did not wish to be named.

However, another resident claimed, “Supervisors and guards knew about it, and they tried to convince the woman to stop troubling the girl. Apparently, she promised to send her back to Patna, so they dropped the matter.”

Narender Kumar Sharma, executive member of the residents’ welfare association, said, “Sneha kept to herself. Nobody from here has been to her flat.” While the guards refused to comment, the supervisor, Devender, said, “We do not interfere in what happens in residents’ homes. I didn’t know this was going on, nor did anyone approach me.”
Although the child was often seen walking her employer’s dog or going to buy groceries, nobody had spoken to her. “I noticed injury marks on her hand once, but didn’t ask her about it,” said an employee at a local shop.

In her statement to the State Commission, the child said, “If I ever spoke to anyone while coming or going from the lift, she (Sneha) would get angry.” Unable to confide in anyone, she spent the day doing “all the housework, cooking food, sweeping, mopping, washing dishes, washing clothes, bathing the dog and combing its fur”.

In her statement, she also said that “there were cameras all over didi’s house”. “She would check the cameras every evening, see what work had been done. Only after that would she give me food,” the girl said.

Police sources said a lot of the footage from the cameras is missing. Commissioner of Police Hanif Qureshi said, “The footage the cameras may or may not have captured is a matter of investigation.”

Recalling her escape bid, the child stated: “That day, didi had been hitting me since night. My head had been spinning since morning but she forced me to work. When she was in the bathroom, I decided to jump from the 11th floor and run away. But she saw me and grabbed my hand. I slipped and fell on the 10th-floor balcony.”

She was rescued by residents, who took her to the police station, and then to the Child Welfare Committee. While Faridabad Police is preparing to challenge the accused’s bail order in a sessions court, the girl has been admitted to a hospital. She has also been put under police protection so that she is not coerced into changing her statement.

“The child is in desperate need of medical attention. We will not hand over her custody to her parents. This appears to be a case of bonded labour, and they were the ones who put her into it,” Bal Krishan Goel, a member of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said.

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.

 

Bengal girl escapes traffickers’ clutches

By DNA:

The 16-year-old had been abducted a month ago and was about to be forced into prostitution; she was re-united with her family on Eid

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This Eid has turned out to be nothing less than miraculous for a West Bengal family that was reunited with their 16-year-old daughter Nazia (name changed), over a month after she went missing from home.

Nazia was abducted by some local men in 24 Parganas district. The month of horrors saw the young girl face torture, sexual harassment, starvation, and the dreadful possibility of being forced into prostitution.

But showing commendable courage, the teen managed to escape the clutches of her tormentors.

“She was trapped by the lure of a better future. Some local men abducted her from near her school and took her to Mumbai. She was assaulted, left to starve, and was about to be pushed into prostitution. But now, she has been saved and has returned home on the occasion of Eid,” Rishikant from NGO Shakti Vahini said.

Nazia had been confined to a flat on the first-floor in outer Delhi.

The entire episode came to light last week, when she jumped off a window. She injured her leg in the process but still kept running.

After a few meters, she bumped into a stranger and pleaded for help. She then called her father from his phone, who immediately alerted a senior police officer and the girl’s rescue was initiated without delay.

The matter was then brought to the notice of Delhi Police and NGO Shakti Vahini, after which the premises were raided. Another girl, who was abducted from Haryana, was also recovered from there. Recalling her ordeal, Nazia told the police that after her abduction, she was taken to Mumbai, where she was employed as a bar dancer. She was then brought to Delhi and was soon to be shifted to GB Road.

A case under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 363 (punishment for kidnapping) and 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person) has been registered.

Counselling sessions will be arranged for both girls to help them overcome the trauma and lead normal lives, an officer said.

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

By The Telegraph:

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.

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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.

Delhi Commission for Women asks couple to pay Rs 2 lakh to help

By TOI:

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The Delhi Commission for Women has directed a couple accused of denying wages to a domestic worker for two years to pay her Rs 2,18,717 within seven days. The commission has put the onus of ensuring compliance of this order on the labour department.

 In the same order, DCW said that since the 25-year-old victim had been declared a bonded labour by the sub-divisional magistrate of Punjabi Bagh, she was entitled to a compensation of Rs 3 lakh under the revised central scheme for rehabilitation of bonded labour that came into effect in 2016. The woman’s home district in Jharkhand is supposed to pay her this compensation. DCW has, therefore, directed the magistrate to issue a bonded labour certificate to the woman to facilitate the compensation process when she returned to home. Currently lodged in a temporary shelter in Delhi, the woman is to be repatriated to Jharkhand by Delhi Police.

In the February 17 order, DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal recalled that the commission, with Delhi Police, had rescued the woman in May last year from an apartment in Paschim Vihar following a complaint by NGO Shakti Vahini. A placement agency had been involved in bringing the woman from Jharkhand, but the agency owner had not been traced.

“The victim alleged that she was not allowed to step out of the house and was beaten up frequently by her employers. Further, she alleged that she was not paid any wages. She also alleged that she was not given food properly by the house owners,” DCW noted.
After hearing both sides, DCW established that the victim was engaged to work as a domestic worker by the employers through the Kamat Placement Agency. The employers told the commission that they paid the placement agency, not the woman, Rs 22,000 in the first year, Rs 13,000 in the next six months and Rs 6,600-7,000 for the next three months. They conceded that wages for 18 months remained unpaid. But since they had no receipts to substantiate the payments made to the placement agency, DCW ordered the payment of wages for the entire period from May 2014 to May 2016.

Bengal Trafficking Bolt-Over 6000 women, children targeted from state in 2016: Govt

By Avijit Sinha:

The data presented by the Union government in Rajya Sabha today showed that 3,856 women and children had been trafficked from Bengal in 2015 and the number increased to 6,672 the following year, the highest in the country.

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Krishna Raj, the Union minister of state for women and child development, said in Rajya Sabha that in 2016, a total of 19,223 women and children had been trafficked from all states and union territories in the country. Among the states, Bengal recorded the highest number of trafficking cases at 6,672. In 2015, the number of trafficked women and children in India was 15,448 and 3,856 of them were from Bengal.

The minister has presented the data compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) at a time several cases of child trafficking have been registered in Bengal, from Baduria in the south to Jalpaiguri in the north.

In 2016, the number of women and children trafficked from Bengal has increased by 72 per cent and 73 per cent, respectively, compared to the previous year.

In 2014, the state, according to the NCRB, had reported the highest number of children missing: 14,671. A substantial number of the missing children are victims of trafficking, say government sources.

The other states that reported high numbers of trafficking are Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu (see chart).

“In north Bengal, the most vulnerable are tea estate dwellers in the Dooars. Human traffickers can easily lure children and women with offers of jobs in other states,” said Soumen Nag, a researcher based in Siliguri.

The government sources said the actual number of trafficking cases might be higher than the NCRB figures as several incidents went unreported. “Sale of children from an orphanage in Jalpaiguri has recently come to light. If such cases are put together, the figures will go up,” a retired administrative official said.

A senior state government official said: “Bengal lies along both national and international borders. Maybe, more cases of missing persons are lodged in our state as the government insists on filing an FIR, not a general diary, for every missing person.”

Shakti Vahini, a Delhi-based NGO working against human trafficking, said more awareness campaigns needed to be held to fight the malady.

“We have been working closely with police and the government in rescuing victims. We need to move further into interiors of the state to spread awareness among girls,” said Rishi Kant of the NGO.

Awareness campaigns have played a vital role in preventing human trafficking in South 24 Parganas. The district, which used to report the highest number of trafficking incidents in Bengal, has shown a steady decline in the cases after the police took up a campaign, which was formalised as Swayangsiddha a year ago.

According to police figures, the district had reported 3,894 cases of human trafficking in 2014. The number went down to 2,853 in 2015 and 2,457 in 2016.

Kant said although trafficking cases were higher in the state, the rate of recovery of victims by the police had also gone up, pointing to the NCRB figures placed in Lok Sabha on February 7.

Bengal reports some of the highest recovery numbers. In 2014, 5,022 women who had been missing from the state were recovered. In 2015, the figure was 2,864.

“Police teams from different parts of Bengal often visit Delhi and other parts of India to rescue victims. Most importantly, they are targeting traffickers now,” Kant said.