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Sold twice, minor girl from Bengal rescued

DWIPAYAN GHOSH IN THE TIMES OF INDIA      DECEMBER 17 2010

NEW DELHI: In a late-night operation which lasted over three hours on Wednesday against alleged human traffickers, a special team of the West Bengal CID and personnel from the crime branch of Delhi Police and west and central districts rescued a 16-year-old girl from the clutches of her captors from Begumpur in west Delhi. The minor girl had gone missing from her village in South 24-Parganas in West Bengal on April 15 last year.

One Azhar was arrested near the Rithala Metro station in northwest Delhi. Though cops denied it, locals claimed there was a brief shootout before the accused was nabbed. Cops said that Azhar is involved in trafficking young girls from eastern and other parts of India and he has been doing it for the past 12 years. “Though the case is in the initial stage of investigation, we believe that the accused is involved in at least 40 cases of trafficking,” said a senior police officer.

According to sources, the team was helped by NGO Shakti Vahini, which gave police some crucial leads. “Two of our girls even posed as decoys and intercepted the girl,” said Rishi kant, a social activist heading the operations of the NGO. Cops said that the ‘lead’ in their search for the minor came after they arrested one Kalam from Park Street area in Kolkata. “We looked for her in several places in Delhi, including G B Road, Nanakpura and Prashant Vihar. It was on Azhar’s instance that we managed to rescue the minor,” said a source in the crime branch.

In her statement to the police, the minor said she was lured by one Alam and brought to Delhi where he allegedly sold her to Azhar. The accused then sold her to one Kadir alias Raju. It was at Raju’s residence that the girl was rescued, but Raju managed to give police the slip.

However, the Kolkata police could not immediately take back the girl and produce her before the Calcutta high court. “When the girl was produced before the Child Welfare Committee at Kingsway Camp in north Delhi, she was sent to a child protection centre – Nirmal Chhaya – near Tihar Jail. A separate application will have to be filed by West Bengal police before Nirmal Chhaya in order to take her back home. The girl has been sent for a medical examination.

Meanwhile, the accused Azhar has been granted two days’ custody to West Bengal police, which will take him back to the state on a transit remand. A case under sections 363 (kidnapping), 366 (kidnapping a woman to compel her to marry) and 372 (selling or letting to hire a minor for purposes of prostitution) of the IPC has been registered.

The disappearance of the minor stepdaughter of Johara Begum on April 15, 2009, had forced the West Bengal police to acknowledge before the Calcutta high court that over 2,500 teenaged girls had gone missing from Bengal last year, apparently due to rampant trafficking.

The Calcutta high court had earlier directed the West Bengal police to produce the girl before it on November 12 this year. In the latest order, the court had directed that the girl be produced before it by December 7 after a haebus corpus was filed against the DGP concerned. The division bench headed by Chief Justice Jaynarayan Patel issued the order after the mother of the girl, Johra Bibi, appeared in the court and said the CID had not acted properly on the missing complaint filed by her. She had alleged that some of her relatives and neighbours, whom she had named in the FIR, had forcibly taken her daughter away.

The division bench, however, asked why the CID failed to trace the girl when her mother had named seven persons in the FIR and directed the DGP to produce her before it on November 12. After the girl had gone missing from Balikhal village in South 24-Parganas on April 15, 2009, her mother lodged a missing complaint the next day. With police failing to act on her complaint, the family filed a writ petition in the high court in May 2009 alleging that police did not take proper action to trace her.

In her statement to the police, the minor said she was lured by one Alam and brought to Delhi where he allegedly sold her to Azhar. The accused then sold her to one Kadir alias Raju.

DWIPAYAN GHOSH IN THE TIMES OF INDIA

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