A HUMAN TRAFFICKINGRACKET BUSTED WITH THE ARREST OF TWO.
THREE MINOR GIRLS RESCUED.
Crime Branchhas busted a human trafficking racket with the arrest of two persons namely Prabhakar Singh @Prakash @ Tinkoo (24 yrs) s/o Late Bholi Singh r/o Vill. Rotu Road, Distt.Ranchi, Jharkhand and Mohd. Israfil (28 yrs) s/o Mohd. Mustkim r/o Vill.Sultana, Distt. Hazaribagh, Jharkhand. They have been operating from Shakurpur,Delhi and involved in trafficking of minor girls from Jharkhand.
INFORMATION,TEAM AND OPERATION: –
On 05.11.2015, a complaint wasreceived from Child Welfare Committee, Gumla, Jharkhand and NGO Shakti Vahini torescue one 15 years old minor girl from Shakurpur area, reported missing videFIR No.73/15 u/s 363/365/367/370/372 IPC, 23/26 JJ Act, 16/18 Bounded LabourAct, 25/26 Interstate Migration Labour Act, PS AHTU, Palkot, Gumla, Jharkhand .
A team of Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU)led by DCP Rajeev Sharma, consisting of ACP Jitender Singh, Inspr. JoginderSingh, SIs Virender, Rohit, ASI Ramesh, HC Krishan, Ct Prem and W/Ct Sukanya wasconstituted under the supervision of Addl.CP Alok Kumar to take immediate legalaction to rescue the girl. The team was accompanied by father of the victimgirl, members of CWC and NGO Shakti Vahini.
The team collected information about suspect Prakash in Shakurpur area by deploying secret informers in the area. Subsequently,on the basis of secret information, the team checked H.No.E-104, 5thFloor, Shakurpur, Delhi where a placement agency in the name & style ofDipika Placement Service Centre was being run and two persons namely PrabhakarSingh @ Prakash @ Tinkoo and Mohd. Israfil were found present.
On enquiry, both the above said persons Prabhakar@ Prakash and Mohd. Israfil disclosed their involvement in the kidnapping of the victim girl and other minor girls. On their disclosure and pointing out, three girls including the victim were rescued from Shakurpur, Surajmal Vihar andPaschim Vihar, Delhi. The accused Prabhkar @ Prakash used to bring the minorgirls from various places of Jharkhand and hand over to Mohd. Israfil for Rs.15,000/-per girl and further takes Rs. 35,000/- from employers. They have been involvedin this illegal business since last five years.
The accused were arrested by Crime Branchunder appropriate sections of law and further action is being taken byJharkhand police.
Trafficker Prabhakar @ Prakash is resident of Ranchi and used to visit the rural areas of District Gumla, Jharkhand frequently in search of victims. He would lure minor girls on the pretext of employment/ good income or for site seeing in Delhi. He used to bring them toDelhi without informing their parents and hand them over to the accused Mohd. Israfil at the rate of Rs. 15,000/- per girl. Md. Israfil would further employ each girl after charging Rs. 35,000/- from the employer. Md. Israfil would further collect the monthly payment from the employer and use the same for their own use. Nothing was paid to the girl or their parents. In the month of September2015, Prabhakar @ Prakash had lured three minor girls and handed them over toMd. Israfil.
Accused Mohd. Israfil is previously involvedin the following cases:
Ranchi: Jharkhand social welfare and women and child development department is planning to sign memorandum of understanding with Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal governments to combat the problem of trafficking.
Social Welfare Department secretary of Jharkhand, Mridula Sinha, attended a meeting in Jharkhand Bhavan in Delhi on Tuesday regarding establishment of state rescue centre in Jharkhand Bhavan to support victims of trafficking and violence.
The meeting was attended by Sharmistha Das, joint secretary, department of social welfare, women and child development of West Bengal, Ministhy S Nair, special secretary, home, Uttar Pradesh, Rupinder kaur, member, Delhi Commission for Women, chairpersons and members of the child welfare committees across Delhi, Delhi Police and representatives of NGOs.
During the meeting, Mridula Sinha proposed the idea of signing of MoUs to the officials of UP and WB government, which was welcomed by all.
Sinha said, “The discussion was very positive and fruitful. The MoU will help all the source and destination states in exchanging information, increase mutual understanding among states, and enable rescue of girls from every state.”
The MoU would be on the lines of the MoU which was signed between Maharashtra and West Bengal government in 2014 to combat trafficking.
“The draft of MoU is being made and it will be finalised within a month or two. We will consider the MoU between Maharashtra and WB government and also add more points to it,” Sinha said.
An important point under this MoU would be sending the rescued girls immediately to their home state if they are found in any of the states which signed the MoU.
Rishi Kant, member of Delhi based NGO Shakti Vahini, who was present in the meeting said, “It is a positive step by the Jharkhand government and other states should replicate it. It is a good beginning but there is still a long way to go and all the stakeholders should come forward and support it.”
Meanwhile, a shelter home of social welfare department is to be inaugurated on Thursday in Ranchi in which rescued trafficking victims and women seeking shelter would be rehabilitated.
Children and Young Girls of the State trafficked to various parts of the nation can finally be traced at the earliest from the nation Capital. The Social Welfare Department has initiated a meeting with officers of West Bengal (WB), Uttar Pradesh Government and Delhi Administration as well as with NGO partners for setting a Trafficking Resource Centre at New Delhi on Tuesday.
Ranchi District Child Protection Officer (DCPO) Kala Nath has been appointed as the Nodal Officer of the Centre. “The meeting was called for two agendas. Firstly, to appoint a Nodal Officer for the upcoming Trafficking Resource Centre. It will help officials of various states and NGO representatives to get in direct touch with a concerned officer of Jharkhand whenever a child or woman of the state is rescued from other states like Haryana, UP or WB.
Secondly, it was held to strengthen the inter-state coordination for rescuing trafficking victims of Jharkhand,” NGO Shakti Vahini president Ravi Kant, also an Advocate of Supreme Court told
The Pioneer over a telephonic conversation from New Delhi.The meeting was an introductory session attended by Social Welfare Principal Secretary Mridula Sinha, Jharkhand Bhawan Resident Commissioner Uday Pratap Singh, Joint Secretary to the Government of West Bengal Sarmistha Das, Delhi Commission for Women member Rupinder Kaur, Delhi Legal Services Authority member, Delhi Police officers, Child Welfare Committee members, Ministry of Home officer, Special Home Secretary of Uttar Pradesh officer and representatives from NGOs BKS, Shakti Vahini and Save the Children.
“The centre once established will help all the stakeholders of the Jharkhand government to accommodate the rescued trafficked individuals of the state from Haryana, New Delhi-NCR regions and Uttar Pradesh safely where the maximum cases of trafficking are reported,” said Ravi Kant.
Other Sources in New Delhi maintained several discussions related to the matter like promoting helpline number for the victims and steps to tackle the trafficking issue through a unified approach were done.
Save the Children State Programme Manager Mahadev Hansda informed indentifying a location for constructing the center is in process. “The Centre will work in two modes apart from trafficking. It will keep in regular touch with children aged below 18 years working in homes and organizations at New Delhi. In case, a child of Jharkhand is harassed by their owners in home or other places, immediate action will be taken against them. Moreover, rescued girls will be given vocational training in the centre,” he said.
Similar meeting of Jharkhand government officials is scheduled with Ghaziabad, Nodia and Haryana representatives in July. Sources informed that Chief Minister Raghubar Das is keen to begin the Resource Centre and had discussed on it with state officers posted in New Delhi during his recent visit to the national Capital.
In the last of the three-part series, dna travels to remote villages of India’s ‘slavery belt’, some of the remotest and backward areas of Jharkhand. Rescued slaves and the parents of those who have never come back reveal what makes these tribals easy targets
Ranchi: The road to Jahupkokotoli village in the Maoist-hit district of Gumla is a contradiction of sorts. As the two-lane road snakes through the forests and rolling hills of the Chottanagpur plateau, bauxite-laden trucks are the only constant reminder of activity here. Yet the public transport to this part of Jharkhand from the state capital Ranchi is rickety. The only bus everyday is as uncertain as life in this extremely backward region of India. Despite the lack of public transport, thousands of tribal boys and girls from Gumla-Khunti-Simdega region, India’s unofficial ‘slavery belt’, are transported and trafficked to upper middle class and rich homes of Delhi. After a period of enslavement and unpaid forced labour, many return battered and bruised. Some are never to be seen again. Some still carry on.
In Jahupkokotoli, an aboriginal hamlet of 160 Oraon tribal families, 45-year-old Mathoo comes running with a picture of his 14-year-old daughter. “Help me find her. I haven’t seen her after she went away in 2007,” says Mathoo. His daughter would be 21 now, but Mathoo doesn’t know her fate after she was taken by a ‘placement agent’ from a neighbouring village to Delhi to work as a domestic help. Within two months, the agent sent Mathoo Rs 1000 as a payment for his daughter’s ‘services’. Next year, he called up the agent again to inquire about his daughter. “The agent said that my daughter had run away and that he did not know her whereabouts. I do not know whether she is dead or alive,” says Mathoo.
A few houses away from Mathoo’s is the hut of Hari Oraon. His 16-year-old daughter Pramila was taken by an agent to Delhi in early 2014. But she ‘escaped’ within four months and came back. According to her statement to police, Pramila was taken to Delhi by another woman of the same village in the promise of a better life. As soon as she arrived in Delhi she was escorted to a Shakurpur-based placement agency by an agent. They took her finger prints on a piece of paper and sent her to work as a domestic maid at three different homes in Delhi. Facing ill-treatment and not having been paid by any of her employers or the placement agency, Pramila escaped. Lost on the streets in Delhi, she begged another woman to take her home. The woman instead handed her over to the Delhi police. The Delhi police handed her over to a shelter home in the capital from where she was taken to Kishori Niketan, a rehab centre for trafficked women in Bijupara, Jharkhand. Finally in April 2014, she was re-united with her family. For her work as a domestic help in Delhi, Pramila wasn’t paid any money. “The police left her in nearby Bishunpur from where we picked her up and got her home,” says Hari Oraon. “She says she will never go back to Delhi.”
Off the road from Bishunpur lies the Dalit village of Hadiya Toli, literally translating into ‘wine village’. There is no road connectivity to the village and reaching here requires walking a kilometre on a dusty track. The name of 15-year-old Sarita alias Budhni evinces a peculiar response from the village men. “That Dilli-return?”, one asks with a wry smile. “Who knows where she is,” says another. “Ask her mother. She might know.” We find her mother working outside her hut and as the conversation about her daughter nears completion, she says, “Who will marry her now? Who knows what might have happened to her in Delhi?”
Sarita disappeared from her house in 2013 with five other girls after an agent in her village promised her lucrative money in Delhi. Sarita says, “I was promised a monthly wage of Rs 5000. After working four months for an agency in Motinagar in Delhi, I asked for some money. They refused and locked me up instead. I begged to let me go home. But they said I cannot go home before I completed five years. Then one day the police raided the place and they took me in their custody,” says Sarita. She was finally sent home in April 2013.
“There were other girls in that house. I do not know what happened to them. I did not even get the money for my work,” says Sarita. When asked about the nature of her work, Sarita maintains an uneasy silence. Sarita is lucky enough to be back in her village. Even though her village doesn’t have either electricity, drinking water supply or roads, she feels safer here than in any of Delhi’s slave holes.
Phulin Murmu, 18, however doesn’t want to return to her village. Phulin Murmu is not a name that would ring a bell. But when she was found burnt, battered and bitten in a house in South Delhi’s posh Vasant Kunj locality it made national headlines in October 2013. She was found in the house of Vandana Dhir, an executive with a French multinational. Murmu’s body bore hot girdle-induced burn marks, deep scars on the head and bite marks all over her body. She was forced to drink urine, prevented from using the bathroom and confined in the house in a semi-naked condition before being rescued. She was working unpaid for two years before being rescued.
DNA tracked her down at a rehabilitation centre in Khunti, one of the hardest hit districts of the slavery belt. She is being educated and trained at the Mahilya Samkhya Society, which she shares with around 30 other minor girls, many of whom are rescued slaves. Phulin can barely write her name, the scars still show on her face. But she details her three years of enslavement with a brave face and with no emotion. “It is for the first time that I am seeing her talk so openly. It seems she is recovering well from the trauma,” says Asha Kusum, the warden of the institution. The Mahilya Samkhya Society is wary of letting Phulin rejoin her parents in her village. They ask her father to come to town for Christmas. They don’t want to take a chance again. “Most kids are from extremely poor tribal families. Their parents will send them to Delhi for any small amount. Phulin is safe here – from poverty and from agents who would want to prey on her again. She is still scared inside. She will only get better,” says Ms Kusum
मानव तस्करी अपने आप में एक जघन्य अपराध है। किंतु आज भी मानव तस्करी धड़ल्ले से की जाती है। कभी विवाह का प्रलोभन देकर तो कभी नौकरी देने के बहाने तस्करी की जाती है। खासकर बच्चों और महिलाआंे की तस्करी की जाती है। ऐसे में एक संस्था आगे आई जिसे शक्तिवाहिनी के नाम से जाना जाता है। इसकी स्थापना सर्वप्रथम दिल्ली में वर्ष 2001 में हुई थी। तीन भाइयों ने मिलकर इसकी स्थापना की थी।
जिसमें रविकांत इसके अध्यक्ष है। निशीकांत एक कार्यकर्ता और ऋषिकांत एक एक्जेक्यूटिव डायरेक्टर है। इसी कड़ी के तहत वर्ष जुलाई वर्ष 2011 में शहर में भी शक्तिवाहिनी नामक संस्था की स्थापना की गई। जिसका प्रमुख उद्देश्य था यहां से तस्करी की गई महिलाओं को मुक्त कराना। इस संबंध में संस्था से जुड़े निशिकांत का कहना है कि इन तीन वषरे में पूरे देश से आठ सौ महिलाआंे और बच्चों को तस्करों के चंगुल से छुड़वाया गया। जिसमें तीन सौ पचास महिलाएं बंगाल से हैं। जिसमें चालीस प्रतिशत बच्चियां है। इसी कड़ी के तहत रविकांत कहते हैं कि इस शहर सहित छह जिलों में संस्था द्वारा कार्यालय बनाने की जरूरत महसूस तब की गई। जब हम देखते थे कि अक्सर तस्करी की गई महिलाएं इस राज्य से जुड़ी होती थी।
खासकर पहाड़ी और चाय बागान इलाके की होती थी। ऐसे में हमलोगों ने निर्णय लिया कि जब यहीं से तस्करी की जाती है तो यहीं पर कार्यालय की स्थापना की जानी चाहिए। ताकि प्रकार की तस्करी को रोका जा सके। इस बारे में यहां के लोगों बताया जाए। 1संस्था से जुड़े दीप बनर्जी कहते हैं जागरूकता अभियान चलाने के लिए लिए ग्रुप बनाए गए है जो विभिन्न स्थानों पर जागरूकता अभियान चलाते हैं।
दार्जिलिंग जिले में पांच ग्रुप बनाए गए है। जो सुदूर ग्रामीण इलाकों में जाकर वहां के पंचायत प्रधान, अध्यापिकाएं सहित महिलाओं को लेकर बातचीत करते हैं। उन्हें समझाया जाता है कि वे शादी और नौकरी इत्यादि का झांसा देने वालों के चक्कर में ना आए। पुरी जांच पड़ताल करे। इसके साथ ही स्कूलों में जागरूकता अभियान चलाया जा रहा है। 1जलपाईगुड़ी हाई स्कूल, मारवाड़ी हाई स्कूल, कालियांगज गल्र्स हाई स्कूल, सिलीगुड़ी देशबंधु उच्च बालिका विद्यालय, शक्तिगढ़ बालिका विद्यालय, बाल्मिकी विद्यापीठ, एक्तिसियाल स्कूल, घुघुमाली हाई स्कूल, अठारखाई उच्च बालिका विद्यालय, इलापाल चौधरी हिंदी हाई स्कूल सहित अन्य स्कूलों में जाकर विद्यार्थियों को बताया गया है कि वे किसी प्रकार प्रलोभन में ना आए। अपने आसपास के लोगों को भी इस बारे में बताए कि इस प्रकार का गिरोह सक्रिय है।
इस मौके पर विद्यार्थियों को इस मुद्दे से जुड़ी फिल्म भी दिखाई जाती है। किस प्रकार से एक छात्र की सूझबूझ से एक लड़की की तस्करी होने से बच जाती है। हाल ही में अनुपमा खोजे नामक नाटक जक्शंन, एनजेपी, माटीगाड़ा, कोर्ट मोड़ सहित शहर के मुख्य इलाकों और सड़कों पर खेला गया। जिसमें दिखाया गया कि किस प्रकार की मीठी बातें कर फंसाया जाता है। जो इस प्रकार की बातें करे उनसे सावधान रहे। जिसमें अंकूर नाट्य गोष्ठी की सक्रिय भूमिका रही। इसके अलावा कन्याश्री योजना के बारे में भी जागरूक किया जा रहा है। जिसमें 13 से 18 वर्ष तक की कन्या इसका लाभ उठा सकती है। इसके अलावा बच्चियों को कक्षा आठ में इनरोल होना चाहिए। इस योजना के बारे में बताने का मुख्य लक्ष्य है कि इससे बाल विवाह पर रोक लगती है। बच्चियों को पढ़ने का अवसर मिलता है। इसके अलावा हर थाने में पैंपलेट बांटे गए हैं। हेल्पलाइन नंबर दिया गया है।नुक्कड़ नाटक के माध्यम से मानव तस्करी के प्रति बच्चों को जागरूक करते शक्तिवाहिनी के सदस्य।जागरण
At a time when trafficking of women and children continues to be a major concern for policy makers in West Bengal, activists have launched a signature campaign highlighting the need for a legislation to curb the activities of illegal placement agencies operating in the State.
Activists cite instances of Chhattisgarh and Delhi where mechanism to regulate activities of placements firms have been introduced in recent past. Chhattishgarh, a State with significant tribal population, where migration and trafficking is common, has recently framed rules under the Private Placement Agencies (Regulation) Act passed by the State Assembly.
In the Capital after the intervention of the Delhi High Court, a notification was issued in September 2014 which provides for compulsory registration of private placement agencies operating there within 30 days.
“We urge the State Government to regulate the placement agencies operating here, form a committee to verify credentials of all placement agencies, define rights of domestic workers and ban employment of children by the placement agencies,” Rishi Kant, an activist with NGO Shakti Vahini told The Hindu.
Pointing out that the campaign has been endorsed by over 4,000 people on different social networking sites, Mr. Rishi Kant said the campaign is aimed to complement schemes like Kanyashree Prakalpa, a scholarship scheme started by the State government aimed at reducing drop out of young girls.
A compilation of the signatures will be presented to the State Department of Women and Child Development, Mr. Rishi Kant said.
Vinod Kumar Tikoo, a former member of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, also supported the initiative. Mr. Tikoo, who has worked in Chhattisgarh and Bengal, said that in certain rural areas of Chhattisgarh there were graffitis by a number of placement agencies.
RAIPUR: She may not be a decorated encounter cop or a trained undercover agent, but she displayed unusual grit and gumption to bust organised trafficking rings at vulnerable patches of Delhi to earn the sobriquet of Chhattisgarh’s ‘Mardani’. After nabbing 15 traffickers and rescuing 20 missing children from Delhi’s hellholes, she’s become a blockbuster star in the state.
In a cat-and-mouse chase with entrenched child traffickers and prostitution kingpins, it was a mindboggling race through maze of accomplices for sub-inspector Mallika Banerjee of the anti-human trafficking cell. And she played a role of a super cop in a bigger-than-life rerun of the Bollywood thriller Mardani in real life.
Disguised as salesgirl, selling body massagers on the street, facing life threats and spurning big bribe money to withdraw investigation, SI Mallika Banerjee, 30, struggled to meet Supreme Court deadline to trace missing children. When she began her Mission Delhi, she only had a tip-off. She shares with TOI how a small rescue operation turned into a month-long gruelling mission.
“On reaching Delhi on November 13 with a five-member team, I had to raid placement agencies of Nirmala and Guddu at Motinagar and Shakurpur. As it was part of protocol to conduct simultaneous raids, we needed to do recce, gather intelligence and keep vigil outside their offices,” Mallika said.
Meanwhile, kingpin Guddu got a wind of raids and released two kids of Bagbahar region and sent them back with four agents. She suspected involvement of Delhi police for tipping off Guddu on raids. But Mallika was constantly keeping watch and kept Jashpur SP, Jitendra Meena in the loop. “We rescued two kids and arrested four agents from a train on Ambikapur-Sitapur stretch.”
While Nirmala was an easy catch, documents seized from her office revealed that children were sold for Rs 30000-35000 with monthly fixed payment of Rs 5000.
From Guddu’s office, Mallika rescued a 12-year-old girl of Jharkhand who was locked in a dank room. Surveillance of Guddu’s phone showed he was in Champaran in Bihar. He had wriggled out of clutches of police .
“It was 12.40 am when I received an anonymous threat call, asking me to leave Delhi. ‘Madam, aap muje nahi jante, meri pahunch mantriyon tak hai. Mahila ho, nikal lo, warna aapke saath kya hoga aap soch nahi sakti’ (You have no idea I am in touch with influential persons and politicians, better leave the place or be ready for the worst),” the caller said.
Mallika was unfazed, persistent. She called Guddu again and finally the call went through. She persuaded him to meet her and help find few missing children, assuring him he won’t be touched. Guddu returned from his Bihar hideout and called her. They were to meet at a parking lot at Daryaganj.
Mallika’s team was prepared in civil dress when Guddu’s aide approached Mallika and said “Guddu is innocent, stop chasing him.” Guddu suddenly appeared from shadows with a cash-loaded briefcase and offered Rs 10 lakh. “Take this and leave. I will handle other senior officers,” Guddu told Mallika. The cops in civvies pounced upon him and arrested him. Guddu had been trafficking children from several states since 2001.
Sales Girl Disguise
Hunting down Hamida, another trafficker, was the toughest. Mallika disguised as a sales girl, sold body massagers at Aman Vihar area for five days. She gathered inputs from households and finally zeroed in on Hamida’s hideout.
“I made excuses, asked for water to get inside her home and arrested her with documents of girls trafficked. Several arrests followed,” said Mallika. It was first experience for this woman officer in tough situations, saying she suddenly felt more connected to those innocent kids.
Jashpur superintendent of police Jitendra Meena said, “Meticulous planning, multiple recces and technical support were required. The operation was closely monitored by us and every success boosted team’s confidence.”
Delhi based NGO Shakti Vahini that supported the mission right from first day said, “AHTU in Chhattisgarh led by ADG Rajeev Srivastava and OSD PN Tiwari certainly create a forward impact on action against child trafficking, as they assure proper training to officials like Mallika who perform courageously even in odd situations.”
Two minor girls reportedly brought to Faridabad some days ago and allegedly sold for Rs 30,000 to a resident as domestic helpers have been rescued. The girls, one of whom is a Bangladeshi national and the other is from West Bengal, have been lodged at a protection home.The girls, aged around 14 years, were allegedly sold as housemaids by a trafficker to the owner of a house in sector 16 here recently. They managed to escape from the house on Wednesday night.
While they reportedly tried to hide behind a vehicle parked near the main market, taxi driver Raju spotted them and asked them about their identity. Raju informed NGO Shakti Vahini whose representatives took the girls to the police station where their statement was recorded. While one of them said she was brought here from West Bengal’s 24 Parganas district on the promise of suitable employment, the other was from a village near the Bangladesh border.
Her exact address is yet to be ascertained.“We have traced the parents of the girl who is from West Bengal and have asked them to come here to get their daughter’s custody,” said Rishikant of Shakti Vahini. Stating that Childline, another NGO, had also played a vital role in the girls’ rescue, he said both would stay at a protection home till their repatriation.
A medical test has been ordered to detect the correct age of both girls. The district child welfare committee has asked the police to lodge a FIR.Though this is perhaps the first such case this year in the district, two victims of trafficking – including a 10-year-old girl — were rescued from Rohtak and Faridabad last December. At least four other trafficked victims were rescued from other parts of the state in the past year.
Business in brides is booming in north-west India as a result of female foeticide, but the women bought and sold are often trapped in lives of slavery and abuse
Just 90 minutes’ drive from the thriving city of Gurgaon, near Delhi, a business hub in India and home to corporate giants Google and Microsoft, Hari Singh Yadav, landowner, farmer and eldest of seven brothers sits outside his front door and bemoans his bachelor status.
“There are not enough girls from my caste in our village, and I’m already 34 years old, so now no one wants to marry me,” he says. Only three of his brothers have found wives. “Here, if you don’t marry, people shun you. I want to go to [the southern city of] Hyderabad and get a wife but it will cost $1,500. Will you loan it to me?”
In the north-west of India, the business in brides is booming. Skewed sex ratios in states including Haryana, where there are only 830 girls for every 1,000 boys(pdf) and young women being lured away to jobs in India’s booming cities, means men like Yadav are increasingly left with few options when it comes to finding a wife.
“Among land-owning castes in rural areas, female foeticide is rampant because people bitterly oppose laws which say girls should inherit equally,” said Reena Kukreja, who teaches gender studies at Queens University in Ontario, Canada. “So they make sure daughters are never born.”
Nearly 50 years after the introduction of ultrasound technology, which campaigners say has led to the sex-selective termination of up to 10 million healthy female foetuses, families in search of wives are increasingly turning to traffickers to counter their sons’ diminishing marriage prospects.
There are no official statistics on trafficked and migrant brides in India, but according to a survey conducted across 1,300 villages in Haryana and Rajasthan by Queens University, there has been a 30% increase over the past three years in the numbers of women lured or coerced into marriage.
The UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has identified organised bride trafficking rings increasingly operating in Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, where gender ratios are among the least balanced in the country. A 2013 UNODC report (pdf) cites a survey of 92 villages in Haryana which shows that in 10,000 households, 9,000 married women had been bought from poor villages in other states.
The business of bride trafficking is proving so lucrative that local people are setting themselves up as dealers or brokers, sourcing women for families seeking partners for their sons.
Bashir, who refused to give his surname, is from Tijara in the north-western state of Rajasthan. He used to make his living harvesting crops or quarrying rocks. Now he supplements his meagre income by travelling to Assam twice a year – with his own purchased wife – to bring back brides for local village families.
“We tell them they’ll get good husbands here. We pay the families $70-100 [£45-65],” Bashir says, sitting outside his family home. “It’s a community service. We are poor, they are poor, so it’s a win-win situation.”
Yet the reality of these marriages for women bought and sold as brides is often a life of slavery and abuse. The UNODC says thousands of these women are raped, abused, used as domestic slaves and often eventually abandoned.
Sahiba was only 16 when a distant relative told her family in Assam that he could marry the poor teenager into a good home. He took her away, raped her twice and sold her as a bride to a family in Palwal, Haryana, 60km from the Indian capital Delhi. “I didn’t want to be raped again, so I went along with it,” she says. “And I thought it was a real marriage.”
She later discovered from her sister-in law that she had been bought for 13,500 rupees (£135) for her mentally ill husband, whom the family thought no one else would marry. “My blood began to boil and I decided to escape,” Sahiba says. “When I refused to sleep with my new husband, I was beaten and attacked with a knife. ‘We bought you,’ his family told me. ‘You have to obey.’”
Shafiq ur-Rehman is an activist and founder of Empower People, a charity that works with trafficked brides in 10 Indian states, including Haryana, where his offices have been set on fire and his employees shot at by locals. He says women who are bought and sold into marriage are often used as unpaid labourers. “It’s simple economics,” he says. “A local day labourer costs $140 for a season. But a girl only costs $100 for life. If it doesn’t work out, she can be resold and there’s no family nearby to help her. It’s no different from the former slave plantations of the US.”
Ghaushia Khan, 40, an activist, was sold into marriage in Haryana as a young woman and now provides legal aid to other trafficked brides. She says that, once sold, many women are considered worthless by the community they find themselves in. “In 1992, a [trafficked bride] in my neighbourhood was doused in kerosene and burnt alive,” Khan says. “Her skin began to peel off and I would hear her crying out, ‘please give me water’.”
Khan travels throughout Haryana trying to help these brides get access to legal support and assistance. She says few of the women she encounters are prepared to go to the police because they believe that, far from delivering justice, a complaint will leave them further isolated.
Some women, like Farida, have spent decades in villages far away from their families. Only 11 when, 20 years ago, she was sold to a 70-year-old man, her first experience of marriage was rape and violence. She gave birth to the first of seven children soon after. “That same day, I was ordered to get up and cook for everyone,” says Farida.
What is most painful, she says, is that her children have been taught to hate her. “My eldest son says to his grandmother, ‘Why don’t we sell her on? There are many others like her,’” she says. “What can I do? I don’t think I’ll ever see my sister again. I don’t even remember how to get back home.”
Others, like Sahiba, have managed to escape their marriages. Sahiba’s brother spent months tracking her down with the help of lawyers and activists with the Delhi-based Save the Childhood Movement. However, the chances of Sahiba getting any kind of justice or compensation are slim. Save the Childhood Movement estimates that, despite thousands of women being affected, there have been only two or three convictions a year for bride trafficking.
“There’s a very low conviction rate in cases of bride trafficking because the law is so fragmented,” says Rakesh Senger, an activist with the organisation. “One section deals with kidnapping, another with trafficking, another with rape, so cases usually took up to five years to prosecute. There is no inter-state police cooperation either, so it’s difficult to get victims to court to testify. However, with the new rape laws, we’re hopeful things will improve as cases have to be tried within a year.”
Ravi Kant, president of Shakti Vahini, one of India’s most high-profile anti-trafficking organisations, agrees. He says that, despite successfully bringing cases of forced labour – where they have prosecuted families for buying women from another state and forcing them into domestic servitude – they have persistently failed to bring cases of bride trafficking to court.
“We’ve tried to prosecute traffickers and men who’ve purchased wives in at least 20 different cases,” Kant says. “They stay in jail for two to three months, get bail and then either the prosecutor doesn’t actively pursue the case, or the victim never testifies because she’s afraid to face her tormentor again. The local police don’t see the accused as having committed any crime, so they don’t investigate properly, and they make no effort to cross state lines to bring victims to court.”
Sahiba’s future remains uncertain. She says that although she has been rescued, the end of her marriage means she can’t go home to her family. “I can’t go back because of the shame of leaving a husband,” she says.
RAIPUR: Chhattisgarh police camping in Delhi for two weeks to traffickers have arrested the mastermind, who is accused of trafficking of over 10,000 minors, mostly tribals, from Chhattisgarh Jharkhand and Assam. Shockingly, the state woman police official leading the team in raids was threatened of dire consequences if she continues the crackdown and also tried bribing her with Rs 10 lakh.
Calling it the biggest breakthrough, state police said that it was for the first time that 15 traffickers and sub-agents were arrested with rescue of 20 minors including boys in series of raids.
Arrested accused Guddu was wanted for 12 cases registered against him for abducting and trafficking of minor children from tribal Jashpur district and many FIRs were lodged against him in other states. Chhattisgarh police were trying to trace him from November 19 after raiding his Guddu placement agency and arresting four other traffickers from there.
Talking to TOI from Delhi, state police officer Mallika Banerjee who’s leading the raids, said that he used to run placement agencies with several other names to play safe and used to mention age above 18 years of all minors he appointed for domestic slavery.
Explaining about how challenging it was to get hold of him, Banerjee said that she was getting continuous threaten from him over phone. “Guddu used to call me midnight, threatening of returning to Chhattisgarh and stop raiding placement agencies. He threatened me of dire consequences claiming that he enjoyed considerable clout in the region. He also tried to lure me and bribe me with Rs 10 lakh to keep mum and return.”
Banerjee said that she was consistent in raids and continued attending his calls to get clue of his locations. “Then I challenged him to meet and discuss the deal on Monday evening. He has brought a briefcase of cash with him and persuaded me but I arrested him then and there,” the police officer said.
The team has seized 700 placement forms from his possession which indicates that there were several more children forced into domestic slavery in Delhi, Jammu, Panipat and parts of Punjab. “Guddu confessed that he was working since 2002 and has trafficked around 10,000 children from several states. We reached him through his sub-agents who were earlier arrested from Jashpur and Delhi. The kids trafficked through Guddu had accused him of beating and thrashing them forcing them to work,” Banerjee added.
Now, police will take him on remand to Chhattisgarh and investigate further based on statements of kids rescued.
Action by Chhattisgarh police in last few days comes in wake of tracing children gone missing between 2011 and May 2014 which turning into an anti-trafficking movement, led to arrest of 15 traffickers and rescue of several children. The chain has been linked and more such arrests are possible in next few days.
Condemning the act of threatening a police officer on duty, Delhi-based NGO Shakti Vahini assisting police in the operation said, “A separate case of threatening a police official on duty should be lodged against Guddu and intense investigation is needed to find out the number of girls he procured from different states.”