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A TRAFFICKED SURVIVOR’S JOURNEY TO JUSTICE

`18The long wait of more than three years for the justice of a survivor of human trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation in Delhi’s Red Light District has come to an end with the announcement of 10 years rigorous imprisonment by the Additional Session Judge Ms. Kaveri Baweja in the packed court of Tis Hazari on September 27, 2013. The accused Padma, who was the madam of the brothel number 5211 in the infamous GB Road was found convicted by the court.

While holding Padma guilty, the court pulled up the police for failing to arrest two men, who allegedly brought the victim from her native village in West Bengal to the capital in 2010. The court order adds, “It may also be pertinent to mention that as per the chargesheet, no efforts appear to have been made by the investigating agency to apprehend the two boys, who allegedly brought the victim to Delhi from her native village in West Bengal”.

A copy of the said judgment was also sent to the DCP (Central) expecting that the DCP shall look into the matter and ensure that the officials functioning under him make all possible endeavors to apprehend the offenders who get away by committing this heinous crime of human trafficking.

Case background:

Diya (name changed) is a 16 years old innocent girl. She hails from the small village of South 24 Pargans district in West Bengal. She appears shy and very hesitant to talk. She was trafficked from her home town on July 2, 2010 when she went to a fair with her friend Suchitra and Souvik. While coming back from the fair Suchitra convinced her that the two boys, whom the victim did not know would drop her home. Instead, they took her to an unknown place and after that brought her to Delhi where she was sold to Padma in brothel number 5211 at GB Road in July, 2010.

Meanwhile, her mother and maternal uncle lodged a complaint in the local Police Station but the police remained the mute spectator. Even when the victim’s mother came to know about the whereabouts of her daughter through a well wisher, she immediately informed the local police. The local police rather than to take proactive actions they showed the excuse of the pre independence preparation and refused the helpless mother in accompanying to Delhi.

Finding no way out the helpless mother and the maternal uncle started for Delhi. Since, they did not have any idea soon after reaching Delhi the duo directly reached to the GB Road. With lot of hope in heart the mother called the well wisher who informed them about her whereabouts. Unfortunately, his phone was going switched off. The mother then started crying sitting beside the dingy lane of GB Road.

Thank to the then Station House Officer of Kamla Market Police station Ms. Surenderjeet Kaur who was on her regular patrolling in the GB Road. When she came to know about the trafficking of the girl from west Bengal, she immediately contacted Shakti Vahini and the raid was planned. Later, a joint team of Shakti Vahini, victim’s mother and maternal uncle and the Delhi police rescued the girl from brothel number 5211.

After the rescue a case was registered u/s 363/376/109/372/373/34 IPC and 3/4/5/6 ITP Act at Kamla Market police station and the accused Padma was arrested.

18Post Rescue Intervention:

August 2010:

          Diya was sent to shelter Home for temporary shelter initially.

          Next day, she was sent to Nirmal Chaya shelter home as per the direction of the Child welfare Committee, a bench of magistrate.

          During her production before the Child Welfare Committee her mother requested for the custody of the girl. The committee then asked for the required documents which her family did not have at that time. She was sent to Nirmal Chaya back.

          In the next hearing, the necessary documents were shown and after a detailed discussion, Diya was restored to her mother.

          In the meanwhile, Shakti Vahini submitted a letter to the Director General of Police of West Bengal for investigation of the case with a copy to the SHO Kamla Market Police Station, Delhi, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission, Chairperson, National Commission for Women, Chairperson, West Bengal State Commission for Women, Director, Women and Child Development, West Bengal, Secretary Ministry of Women and Child Development Delhi, Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Anti Trafficking Cell, Ministry of Home Affairs.

     Later a team of Delhi police went to Sonarpur to arrest the accused of this case. The female accused named Suchitra was arrested by Delhi police. When the Delhi police prayed before the concerned court for her transit remand, the west Bengal police claimed that Suchitra is the accused of the Bengal police under FIR no. 455/10, which was registered on the basis of missing complaint made by the victim’s mother. And, hence custody of the accused was not given to the Delhi Police.

         In the mean time summons were issued for the co-accused Suchitra but she could not be traced by the Delhi Police.

Fight for Justice:

As summoned by the Hon’ble court the survivor, her mother and maternal uncle reached Delhi and appeared before the court for deposition in May, 2012. Though the chief of the survivor was done her cross examination was not done as the defense advocate did not turned up and the survivor was again summoned in July, 2012.

In July 2012 the survivor was given admission in class VIII in a village school with the intervention of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights and the District Magistrate, South 24 Parganas.

The fight for justice became more challenging when in July the survivor and her mother and maternal uncle reached Delhi court long way from the West Bengal village, both the defense counsel and the accused were absent in the court and the survivor and her family was given another date. Adding to their fate the girl was not issued the travel allowance by the hon’ble court and was told that the same would be given in the next date of hearing. However, the honorable court issued non bailable warrant against the accused Padma.

Image (690)In August, 2012 the accused Padma submitted an application before the honorable court seeking cancellation of the Non-Bailable Warrant issued against her. It was submitted that she appeared in the court in July, 2012 but left the court at around 11:30am as she was not feeling well due to loose motions and acute pain in her stomach. But the submission of the accused was not supported by any medical documents. In these circumstances, the honorable judge did not find any ground to believe that the accused left the court for the reasons as mentioned in the application and it appears that her disappearance was intentional in view of the fact that the said material witnesses were present in the court on 25.07.2012. Hence, the application was dismissed. The accused Padma was taken into custody and be produced in the court on the next date i.e. on 28.08.2012.

The survivor along with her mother and maternal uncle appeared before the court on August 28, 2012. Since, the honorable judge was on leave she had to appear on August 29, 2012. On 29.08.2012 she was cross examined for one hour by the defense lawyer. The defense counsel then seek the permission of the honourable court that he needs 8 hours for the cross examination of the survivor. The Hon’ble judge then fixed the next hearing. But this time it is for three consecutive days i.e. from 17-19 September, 2012.

On 17.09.2012 Diya, her mother and maternal uncle reached to the Tis Hazari court. The case was not heard due to the strike called by all the five District Court Bar Associations of advocates of Delhi and hence the defence counsel did not turn up. The honorable Judge then assured that the case would be heard in the morning the next day.

On 18.09.2012 the survivor, her mother and maternal uncle reached to the court at 10am. On that day due to the absence of the accused and her counsel in the morning the hearing was postponed for the post lunch court. As both the accused and her counsel did not turn up the case was not heard.

On 19.09.2012 the cross examination of the survivor was done. During the cross examination the survivor was found to be facing some language problem. After that the cross examination of her maternal uncle Bapi Mondal was done. Then the honorable court decided to summon the mother of the survivor and the school principal who issued the school certificate for November 8, 2012. The honorable court did not provide the travelling allowance of the child survivor’s mother for their journey from West Bengal to Delhi and vice versa, though the same was provided during their next visit.

On November 8, 2012 the survivor’s mother appeared before the court of Addl. Session Judge (Central Delhi) Smt. Kaveri Baweja. As the survivor’s mother is not able to speak in Hindi her witness was dropped and a warrant was issued to the principal of the school who issued the certificate during the survivor’s restoration to the family. The principal was summoned on November 8, 2012. But she is too old to turn up in the court.

In November, 2012 the survivor’s mother called Shakti Vahini representative and informed that one unknown person has been regularly calling the survivor’s family and threatening the family. The matter was reported to the Anti Human Trafficking Unit, CID Bhawani Bhawan by email on November 14, 2012.

In May, 2013 one Sarika claiming to be the friend of the accused Padma moved an application before the court for exemption from personal appearance on behalf of accused Padma. However, the court declined the application and issued Non Bailable Warrant against accused with notice under section 446 CrPC against the surety to be executed through SHO Kamla Market. However, the honorable court observed that no steps have been taken by SHO Kamla Market to get the presence of the accused as according to the reply filed by the police the accused was not found in the GB Road, whereas it was already reported that the accused had gone to her native place. The honorable court then issued afresh NBW against the accused through the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Central). The court also observed that the case is at the far end of trial and the accused is intentionally not appearing before the court.

In the meantime the police could have rearrested the accused Padma and sent her to the Judicial Custody as per the direction of the honorable court.

During the trial the survivor and her family was also attacked several times by the unknown persons by pelting stones at their house, entering their house in the late night.

Salute to the Survivor and her Family:

13In spite of all difficulties the survivor and her mother, who is separated from her husband kept no stone unturned in their fight against justice. In their long fight for justice the minor survivor along with her mother had to come for court appearance in Delhi for five times from their native village, 1500 kilometers away from Delhi. The only source of earning is a roadside tea stall, which is barely enough for arranging the two ends meal. The words of the survivor’s mother during my last phone call to let her know the judgment of the honorable court still echo in my ear as she said, “My fight for justice will continue for other girls too. But it is very difficult to reduce the crime until and unless state takes the initiatives.” Recalling her journey to justice she adds, “during this journey for justice I was summoned to appear before the court several times but the state did not even think that how a family with back breaking poverty can manage to go to Delhi for five times?” Appreciating the court judgment she said, “Though I was reimbursed my travelling allowance for my too and fro journey to Delhi, but my brother’s expense who accompanied us had to bear by me. The state has no responsibility about the survivors regarding their stay in Delhi and other expenses during their visit for court deposition. Thanks to the West Bengal Government as they allowed us to stay in the Bangabhawa but surprisingly it was the paid accommodation. Recently, the Bengal Govt. had increased the accommodation cost many folds for the common people in Bangabhawan. My daughter had also requested the Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights for facilitating with the West Bengal govt. so that at least the govt. issue a circular for free accommodation for all the child survivors of West Bengal who are coming to depose in the Delhi court. But to no avail.” Expressing her concern over the trafficking as organized crime she said, “The traffickers who kidnapped my daughter from the village are freely moving. I don’t think that the police have taken any initiative in arresting them. It should be the mandate of the police to connect the investigation to source and destination.” The poor mother added that she would get full justice once the two source traffickers are convicted.


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