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Jharkhand ex-minister’s aide in trafficking net

MAHATO ARREST

PUBLISHED IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

NEW DELHI: Delhi Police crime branch has arrested a human trafficker, Pannalal Mahto, and his wife, who had been on the run since cops raided their house in north-west Delhi’s Shakurpur area and arrested Jharkhand ex-minister Yogender Saw. Mahto is accused of running several illegal placement agencies which lured minor girls from villages in Jharkhand and forced them to work as domestic helps in the city. Police said nearly 5,000 girls were brought to the national capital by Mahto since 2002.

Mahto and his wife were produced before a Dwarka court on Sunday afternoon and placed on transit remand. Mahto has been charged under IPC sections of kidnapping and assault.

Mahto (31) and his wife Sunita Kumari (37) are wanted in several cases of kidnapping and assault registered in Jharkhand. A non-bailable warrant had also been issued against them by a Jharkhand court. Police said Mahto was a close aide of Saw, who was known to be a Maoist sympathizer and wanted in a mass massacre case. Cops are also probing Mahto’s links to the banned outfits.

“A team led by DCP Bhisham Singh, ACP Hoshiyar Singh and inspector Sandeep Malhotra tracked him after Saw’s arrest. He was found hiding at a JJ colony in Shakurpur,” said Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner (crime).

Police said Mahto and his wife did not return to their house after the police raid and were staying at the colony. When cops reached the house, they had packed their bags and were trying to flee. “His whereabouts were spilled by his sister-in-law Gayatri who said that he was expanding his business through several sub-units in the city,” said DCP (crime), Bhisham Singh.

Police said that more than 100 units operated under him from which he earned between Rs 50,000-70,000 per month. “He used to employ several agents in Delhi and Jharkhand to lure the girls from their parents or kidnap them. They were then brought to Delhi and their fake identity cards were prepared. The gang then put them up for being employed at households,” said Rishi Kanth from the NGO Shakti Vahini, which rescued several girls from different parts of the city.

The girls were usually given on an 11-month contract for Rs 22,000-30,000. A few were sold for marriage in parts of Haryana for hefty sums.

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