HUMAN TRAFFICKING RACKET BUSTED WITH THE ARREST OF TWO

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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.

MODUS OPERANDI:-

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:

  1. FIRNo. 269/12, dt.14-07-12, u/s 374, IPC r.w. 23, 26 JJ Act, P.S. Subhash Place.
  2. FIRNo. 449/12, dt.23-11-12, u/s 376 (G) IPC, P.S. Subhash Place.
  3. FIRNo. 315/13, dt.26-07-13, u/s 323,342,509 IPC, P.S. Subhash Place.
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State to sign MoUs with UP and WB

SHAKTI VAHINIBy Kelly Kisalaya in Times of India

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.

IMG_5592“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.

SHAKTI VAHINI PARTNERS IN TRAFFICKING RESOURCE CENTRE AT NEW DELHI

SHAKTI VAHINI PUBLISHED IN THE PIONEER

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.

SHAKTI VAHINI“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.

मानव तस्करी के खिलाफ खड़ी हुई शक्ति वाहिनी

d2524

PUBLISHED IN DAINIK JAGRAN

जागरण संवाददाता, सिलीगुड़ी:

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

Bring law to prevent human trafficking

mardaani01-jun24PUBLISHED IN THE HINDU

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.

CHHATTISGARH’S MASTERMIND TRAFFICKER HELD IN DELHI, HAD THREATENED STATE WOMAN OFFICER TO STOP RAIDS

10333444_10152780916814123_8361784975143835045_o

PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

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.”

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.

Trafficked girl awaits aid after 3yrs

143847968Guwahati Telegraph By Pankaj Sarma

Sept. 9: Almost three years after she was rescued from Haryana, a 20-year-old victim of human trafficking from Assam is still awaiting assistance from the state government for her rehabilitation.
Rekha (name changed), who hails from Hajo in Kamrup district, is now struggling for a livelihood as she is yet to get any form of help from the government despite repeated pleas. “Without any source of income, I have become a burden on my family,” she told The Telegraph.

As a result, she is finding it difficult to arrange even two square meals a day for herself and her two-year-old son. Rekha, who was trafficked to Haryana and forced into marriage, was rescued by Shakti Vahini, a Delhi-based anti-trafficking NGO, with the help of Haryana police from Shahpur in Haryana’s Jind district on October 4, 2011.

Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini told The Telegraph that she had written many times to the state government seeking help so that she can sustain herself and take care of her child but till date her efforts have yielded no result.

“After prolonged persuasion, joint secretary of the social welfare department M. Baruah wrote an official letter to the director of the department, Dilip Borthakur, on March 5 this year asking him to look into the matter and do the needful,” he said.

“Six months have passed since then, but unfortunately nothing came of it,” Kant rued. When contacted, Borthakur said one of his officers, who is looking into the matter, is currently on leave.
“I would be able to tell you about its present status only after he returns from leave,” he said.

Rishi Kant said Rekha was trafficked when she was 17 with the lure of a job since she was from a very poor family. “After that she was forced to marry a person named Rakesh, who not only sexually abused her but also forced her to do all the household chores,” he said. At the time of her rescue, Rekha was five months pregnant. According to Kant, they reunited Rekha with her family and sent her back home.

“Her family comprises her father, mother and her child, who are now totally dependent on the daily wage earned by her father, which is not enough to make both ends meet,” he said.
“The girl had appeared for the high school examination before tragedy befell her but could not pass. The situation was truly painful,” he said.
“What was even more painful is that while the girl and her family continue to struggle, the administration has turned a blind eye towards them. Rehabilitation as a post-rescue measure seems to be a lost cause, duly ignored by the authorities,” Kant said.

He said the sordid tale of Rekha exposes the true face of the state government, which otherwise claims to be helping trafficking victims. According to him, because of a lack of specific policy of the state government for rehabilitation of trafficking victims, many survivors of trafficking, who are from poverty-stricken and marginalised families, are left with no other option but to take up prostitution to support their families

Human trafficking: A phone call to the heart of darkness

trafficking--621x414PUBLISHED IN THE MINT : By Ashwaq Masoodi

Siliguri: It usually starts with a missed call. When the call is returned, the person at the other end of the phone compliments the caller on, say, her voice. Unlike a normal relationship, these “phone relationships” in poor villages of North Bengal take quick leaps. Within a day or two, the person who had given the missed call proposes marriage to the teenager. He doesn’t want to wait. They must elope. There is a promise of love, faithfulness and always a better life in a big city. It’s a promise that is false. As many as 82,101 children went missing across India in 2013-14 (till February), of whom 48,688 were from West Bengal, according to government figures.

A 2004 report by the National Human Rights Commission on trafficking of women and children said that one-third of children reported missing every year in India remained untraced and that many of these were trafficked. Child labour, illegal adoption and prostitution are the main reasons why children go missing. According to National Crime Records Bureau data, 3,940 cases were registered in 2013 under different provisions of the law that come under the generic description of human trafficking. Many of those trafficked end up as domestic workers, working in slave-like conditions. Placement agencies illegally earn Rs.13,000-41,000 crore per year by exploiting an estimated 7-17 million domestic child labourers, according to a report, Economics Behind Forced Labour Trafficking, by Global March Against Child Labour, a non-governmental organization (NGO). “In the National Capital Region, the estimated number of registered and unregistered placement agencies is around 3,000. At least 30% of these engage child labour. Each agency is able to place 60-100 children as domestic workers every year. The agencies receive commissions of Rs.20,000-50,000 per child. They pay the child anywhere between Rs.1,500 and Rs.4,500 per month. This money, too, is often kept by the agency and does not reach the child,” the report states.

On 27 May, a 16-year-old and her family went to attend a wedding, just a few miles from her house in Buraganj village, 32km from Siliguri. Among the guests was Rani, a woman in her 30s, dressed in a gaudy sari encrusted with sparkling crystals, and in distinctive, bright make-up. All eyes were on her and everyone speculated on what she did for a living. Over the wedding meal, Rani started a conversation with the teenager. She asked for her phone number and a photograph. The teenager handed over her details along with a crumpled passport-size photograph she had somewhere in her bag. Two days later, the teenager received a missed call, and called back. The man at the other end introduced himself as Mahesh Mardi. He said a mutual friend had given him her number and photograph. He was already in love with her, he said. Never having received such compliments and flattery before, the teenager believed every word. The youngest of eight siblings, the teenager grew up pampered with hardly any housework to do. The family is not poor by the standards of their village. All the brothers work, some in their own fields, others in the tea gardens close by. The family has cattle, lives in houses built of mud, bamboo and tin, the children have bicycles and the women wear gold. Three days after their first conversation, Mahesh asked the teenager to come to Naxalbari, which is located towards the north of her village. She happily said yes. When she reached, four people including Mahesh and Rani were waiting. Alarmed at seeing so many people, the teenager faltered; she said she wanted to go back home. But Mahesh swore undying love; he would consume poison if she didn’t come with him, he swore. Even more panic-stricken, the teenager tried to run, but Rani held her hand and pulled her into a bus headed to New Jalpaiguri railway station, 32km from her village. At the station, they gave her some food to eat while they waited for a train to New Delhi. Since everyone else was eating, she didn’t suspect anything. The next thing she remembers is waking up at 3am the following day. They were in Delhi. From there it was a short auto ride to a placement agency. Placement agencies rely on sub-agents such as Rani who provide them with information and “recruits”. How much the sub-agent earns depends on the “quality” of the recruit, in terms of how good looking they are. Along with local muscle like Mahesh, the sub-agents take new recruits like the teenager to the nearest bus or railway station to take them to their destination or else hand them over to either a new sub-agent who completes the journey. Moving through several hands, the recruits then land up at the so-called placement agencies for “employment”, a euphemism for slave wages and working conditions, as domestic workers. In Delhi, the teenager was kept in the placement office for a day before she was assigned to an employer. “I said I wouldn’t work. But they didn’t listen to me,” she says. Boys and girls are taken from tea gardens or poor villages to places such as Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Bangalore, Kerala, Kashmir, Bhutan and Sikkim with a promise of jobs or a better life. Nearly 3,600 children from poor families in the shut-down tea gardens of West Bengal migrated to Indian cities and West Asia, to work mostly as child labourers in 2010-11.

Of the total, 317 have gone missing, according to a study carried out jointly by the Unicef, Save the Children (an NGO) and Burdwan University, across 12 tea gardens in the state. The study was carried out between May and July 2011. When no one came to take her back, the 16-year-old told her employer that she had been forced by Rani to take up the job. Infuriated on hearing this, the owner called the placement agency, which decided to send Rani to work on the teenager’s behalf. But within a couple of days, Rani tricked the teenager into believing that she wouldn’t have to work for more than a week, and fled after the 16-year-old resumed her work. Left with no option, the teenager called her brother saying: “I have been sold.” According to the US department of state’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2013, in India, an increasing number of job placement agencies lure adults and children for sex trafficking or forced labour, including domestic servitude, under false promises of employment. “Activists estimate 20% of domestic workers who are rescued from Delhi homes complain of sexual abuse, either by the employer or those in job placement agencies,” the report said. Following the name of the placement agency that the teenager had given on the phone, her maternal uncle and brother filed a first information report (FIR) and headed to Delhi. “We kept calling. It was frustrating because we didn’t even know where to start from,” her maternal uncle, who is a tea garden manager, says. The girl was eventually rescued in a joint operation by NGO Shakti Vahini and West Bengal Police. Nearly a month after her rescue, Rani was arrested as well.

What happens in such cases, NGOs claim, is that only the destination trafficker is arrested and the entire chain of people involved or the racket isn’t busted—which means the investigating officers stop after arrests in the destination states. And because of gaps in investigation, acquittals take place. Furthermore, poor victim-witness protection generally discourages victims from testifying against their alleged trafficking offenders. “For every case of human trafficking, we should involve all the law enforcement agencies across the country and network with them so that all the traffickers from the source area till the destination area are booked,” says Shakti Vahini’s Ravi Kant, a Supreme Court lawyer. Even though a few states have victim compensation schemes, due to inadequate implementation, victims have to wait for several years to receive funds. “The criminal justice system in India is more focused on punishment for the perpetrator. Police efforts are towards punishing. There is no care and protection for the victim. The victim is left on her own to fight her battle. Even if a case reaches the trial level, summons from the place where she was arrested reach her, but not the money. She has to come on her own. In most cases, the state is not a facilitator in getting justice… All this discourages the victims. And if the victim doesn’t take interest, in several cases, it leads to acquittals,” says Kant.

The government has set up the Anti Trafficking Cell under the ministry of home affairs (MHA), launched a certificate course on anti-human trafficking under Indira Gandhi National Open University in partnership with the MHA, and implemented a comprehensive scheme for strengthening law enforcement response by establishing integrated anti-human trafficking units (AHTUs). The ministry released funds—Rs.8.72 crore and Rs.8.33 crore in 2010-11 and 2011-12, respectively, for the establishment of 225 AHTUs. The ministry of women and child development also runs shelter-based homes, such as short-stay homes, and Swadhar homes for women in difficult circumstances, including trafficked victims. The teenager has started going to school again. She says something happens in her spine whenever she tries to dredge up the memory of those 15 days. “I wouldn’t listen to anyone now. I will not let anyone befool me again,” she stammers. Her maternal uncle says that after this incident, even though she is safe and with her family now, she is traumatized. “She cannot complete even one sentence without stopping more than once or without forgetting while speaking,” he says. Over the last few years, many cases of exploitation of domestic help have been reported—almost all of them females—many of whom were abused, some brutally. Early this year, an 11-year-old domestic help from Uttar Pradesh was allegedly starved for days and tortured by her employers (in Thane), who inserted green chillies into her genitals to make her obey their orders. A civil engineer in Bangalore was booked in August for physically and mentally harassing an 18-year-old domestic help in his house. Even though the teenager is still traumatized, she was at least lucky to have escaped; not every story has a happy ending in such cases.

Human trafficking caters to demand for brides

PRP _5014by priyanka-k7YE--621x414@LiveMintPUBLISHED IN THE MINT : By Ashwaq Masoodi

A field study in Haryana found that over 9,000 married women were bought from other states

Jhajjar/New Jalpaiguri: Last year, she was raped by someone she called mausa (uncle) in front of and on the bed of a woman she called mausi (aunt). Then, the mausa sold her off as a bride to a 45-year-old widower, father of a three-year-old, in Haryana. Price of the exchange: Rs.70,000. Haryana, with the country’s worst sex ratio of 879 girls to 1,000 boys, now has to increasingly import brides from poverty-stricken states such as Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha. It’s the same story in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh where female foeticide is high and the sex ratio skewed. According to the 2013 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, 24,749 children and women between the ages of 15 and 30 were kidnapped and sold into marriage across the country.

Hundreds of girls and young women are sold into forced marriages in northern India, finds a report by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Shakti Vahini. “They are bartered at prices that vary depending on their age, beauty and virginity, and exploited under conditions that amount to a modern form of slavery,” the report states. A field study on the impact of the sex ratio on marriage by NGO Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan Kendra that covered over 10,000 households in Haryana found that over 9,000 married women were bought from other states. The study, which covered 92 villages of Mahendragarh, Sirsa, Karnal, Sonepat and Mewat districts, said that most people accepted this as a common practice, even though they personally denied having purchased a bride in their family.

With its blend of poverty, illiteracy, naiveté, trust and betrayal, the story of this family in North Bengal is being repeated in countless villages across India. An old, ailing mother, an estranged son, a 23-year-old illiterate, unmarried daughter, another daughter, and a deaf and mute son—the family’s sole breadwinner making no more than Rs.80 a day by working in a tea plantation.

Most households in the Darjeeling hills and the Dooars-Terai region located in the foothills of the Himalayas depend on the 300-odd plantations located here. In the late 1990s, when tea leaf prices dropped, many owners cut wages and, in some cases, abandoned their plantations altogether. By 2003-04, many tea estates had shut down. Newspapers reported starvation deaths; according to The Times of India, nearly 100 people have died of starvation and acute malnutrition in the five gardens closed in the Dooars since January last year. Five died in June alone. Tall with sharp features and long hair, the 23-year-old lives in a village in Banarhat, nearly 95km from Siliguri. She walks with difficulty and complains of soreness and a constant stomach ache. The weakness caused by malnutrition is evident. Those who could afford to migrate did. But for this family with its physically disabled son, migration was not an option and so they stayed on, even though there were days when the chulha (cook stove) could not be lit. The so-called mausa, Rajendra Pal, lived next door. Originally from Haryana, he had married the teenager’s neighbour by hiding the fact of his previous marriages. It was Rajendra Pal who suggested the family make a trip to Haryana to see a famous godman who, he claimed, would cure them of their chronic problems. He even offered to pay for their travel. The girl was reluctant. “I kept saying I am a woman. They wouldn’t do anything to my mother. They couldn’t have taken anything from my brother. But I am a woman. They can do anything they want to with me, and I will be ruined for life,” she says she told her mother. But Rajendra Pal persisted. She was like his daughter, he said. Just stepping into the godman’s ashram would cure her problems. Why, the godman had even healed mausa’s leg after an accident, he said. The family relented. “The problem with us poor people is that we trust very easily, and we trust everyone,” says the 23-year-old’s elder sister. Three days after they reached Haryana, mausa locked the girl’s mother and brother in a room and raped the 23-year-old. “Mausi was watching and kept asking me not to cry. Let him do what he wants. He is your mausa,” the girl says. Two days later, Pal sold her to a 45-year-old resident of Kheri Mansingh village in Karnal district of Haryana and married the two off in his lawn. He told the girl he would kill her if she tried to run away. There was nowhere to run to. Once, she said, she hid in a maize field for close to 24 hours, hungry and thirsty and soaked in sludge till her waist. She thought she had escaped till they found her again. “I had to do all the household chores—cleaning the house, cooking, rearing the cattle and a horse—and still they kept complaining,” she says.

Brides for sale Large-scale bride trafficking has been taking place in Haryana, Punjab and other low-sex-ratio states for over two decades, say NGOs. Even if the Haryana government ensures that not a single sex-determination test or sex-selective abortion takes place, demographers believe it will take 50 years for the population to stabilize and return to its natural ratio. The challenge before not just Haryana but also western Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan is to ensure that bride demand is not catered through human trafficking. “The governments in these regions should ensure legislations which protect the rights of women and children,” the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)’s anti-trafficking report released in 2013 states.

Many men in Haryana, however, claim that the shortage of brides is not caused by the skewed sex ratio as much as the rising levels in women’s education.“Women here study much more than men do. And she obviously will want to marry a man who has studied at least as much as she has, if not more. This is making it increasingly difficult for lesser educated men to find brides,” says Vinod Bala Dhankar, a social activist and woman khap leader based in Jhajjar district of Haryana. Moreover, bringing in a molki, or purchased bride, actually works out cheaper. “Even if you are poor, you would give a bride from Haryana gold worth at least Rs.1.5 lakh plus clothes and other gifts. But for a molki you only pay for a mangalsutra and a gold ring,” says Dhankar. Strict caste and marriage rules among the Jats of Haryana also place restrictions on marriages between two people from within the same gotra, same village or even adjoining villages. This, too, limits the options before the state’s marriageable men. Faced with these limitations, organized groups of unmarried youth have sprung up in the state with famous slogans such as bahu-dilao-vote-lo (brides-for-votes).

The Kunwara Union (Unmarried Youth Organization) was founded five years ago by social activist Pawan Kumar. A similar outfit, Avivahit Purush Sangthan (Unmarried Union), was set up by Bibipoor village panchayat head Sunil Jaglan to look into the issue of gender imbalance caused by female foeticide. Dhakla village in Haryana’s Jhajjar district has a population of nearly 4,000 people. A narrow, dusty, single lane leads to Rekha’s house. She has tied a dupatta around her head in the form of a bandana, and speaks Haryanavi as fluently and with as much confidence as the locals. In 2007, she came to Sonepat from North Bengal, after her cousin invited her to visit. The day she arrived, she was sold off for Rs.50,000. But Rekha bursts into laughter at the suggestion that she was sold. “I don’t want to think of what happened. Probably I wouldn’t have had such a happy life if I was still with my family. We were very poor,” she says.

Just half a mile from Rekha’s house lives another woman, nearly 30 years old. Five years ago, her sister sold her off to a man who had two brothers, one older and one younger. The two brothers have decided not to marry. The woman, who does not want to be named, says her husband beats her up almost every night and has asked her more than once to leave. Worse, within a month of her marriage, the elder brother tried to rape her. Just last month, he sexually assaulted her again, she says. Even the younger brother has assaulted her twice.

“The scarcity of women has been there for long. But earlier, if a family had four brothers, they would just get one woman and she would take care of everyone and everything,” says Om Parkash Dhankar, Sarv Khap Panchayat coordinator in Haryana. Since the women are “purchased”, men think they can do whatever they want to with them. “In the beginning, brides were imported from adjoining regions like Ganganagar and Rajasthan’s Alwar area, but slowly women were brought from West Bengal, Assam and such states,” says Rakesh Senger from NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan. “These women do not go back to their native places and so their husbands do not feel accountable to anyone. They think they can do anything with them and no one will question them. Because they have purchased them, these women serve both as sex slaves as well as labour slaves for these men.”

Recently, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s National Kisan Morcha president O.P. Dhankar stoked a controversy by saying his party would get girls from Bihar for the unmarried young men of Haryana. More than a month after his controversial statement, Dhankar says: “We cannot stop migration. What we should look for is ways to legalize this process. I think both the source and the destination states should make it mandatory to register these inter-state marriages.”

On September 16 last year, when the 23-year-old was working in the kitchen, she heard someone shout her name. It was her sister accompanied by Haryana Police and NGO Shakti Vahini. When the villagers learned about the joint rescue operation, a huge crowd gathered around her house with knives and sticks, shouting that they wouldn’t let anyone take their bride away as they had paid for her and she was their property. Under police protection, the 23-year-old was brought to the local thana. “Finally I was free. It felt like nothing worse could happen to me any more,” she says. And then a pregnancy test confirmed that she was pregnant. The child, she says, is Pal’s, who is now out on bail. Even though nothing legally stops an investigating officer from conducting an investigation anywhere in the country, Pal has relocated to West Bengal, out of the reach of Haryana Police. “They forced us to withdraw the case against Pal’s wife by emotionally blackmailing us, saying she has a small child,” the 23-year-old’s elder sister says. “But my sister’s life is ruined. Nothing happened to the people who did this to her. When an item in the market is damaged or has some flaw, no one wants it…there are no buyers.”