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Trafficking and Slavery : A young life ends tragically in bondage……

IMG_3299SHAKTI VAHINI NEWS

Belonging to a poor family of Uttar Dinajpur, West Bengal, Poonam (name has been changed) was an innocent child of 14 year old and was the youngest of her sibling. She was full of energy and does all her household chores. Her mother works as a domestic help in Delhi while her father was a labourer. “She went to collect some firewood for preparing food”, this was the last thing that her mother remember about her while leaving for Delhi for work four months ago. Now after four months, Poonam’s mother was shocked to hear the death news of her daughter.

Poonam was trafficked from her village to Delhi by Rafiq who runs a placement agency in Tughlaqabad area of Delhi under the name of “Lakshmi Placement agency”. She was then sent to work in an affluent house of Faridabad, Haryana in end of March, 2014. On 14th April, 2014 a report was published in Dainik Bhaskar about the suspicious suicide of a maid. The police said that was working in the house since past 20 days and was found hanging to a pipe in the balcony.

It was only on after four days that the mother came to know that her daughter was working in Faridabad and is dead. “I received a call informing me that my daughter is in a hospital in Faridabad and is in serious condition, I ignored it because I left my daughter at home with her father”, said the mother. She also said that she was not able to make any contact to her husband back home because numbers were not connecting. Meanwhile Rafiq was informed by Faridabad police about the death of Poonam who brought 2-3 people turn wise, claiming to be the relatives of Poonam. No FIR was lodged as police expresses its helplessness that parents of the victim has not come yet but the post-mortem was done.

On 17Th April, 2014, Rafiq and 2-3 people, who were claiming to be Poonam’s relative, reached the house where the mother works and forced the mother to go with them. The employer of the mother was sensitive and aware about the problem of human trafficking. She immediately informed the Police and didn’t allow Rafiq to take mother with him. The very Next day, the employer family and Poonam’s mother reached Faridabad Police station. Rafiq and some people who were claiming to be Poonam’s relatives were also present there. One of the lady from them tried to slap mother in the presence of the IO. It was only after the request of Shakti Vahini representative; the IO stood up to stop the lady and a lady constable was then called to take the lady out. Mother filed an application for registering an FIR against the placement agency agent and the employer of her daughter with the help of Shakti Vahini. The FIR was finally launched in the evening after a long day discussion.

IMG_3307But this was not the end to the suffering of mother who still had to fight with the tired system for the re-post mortem and burial of her daughter. On 19th April, 2014, the Shakti Vahini team and mother again went to Faridabad to submit an application for re-post mortem and to search for land to bury her loving daughter. The team and mother were moving from the one door to other door of churches in the area of Faridabad just to ask for four feet land to bury the girl. The mother was carrying a white sheet and scented water in a hope that she could at least do the last rites of her daughter well. But the administration of many churches was fading her hopes. At the end cemetery of sector 19 agreed to perform her last rites.

But this time mother and Shakti Vahini team could not bury the girl on the same day as mother finally submitted an application for re-post mortem of the body at 5 pm. But again she had to wait for more than 2 hours to see the first post mortem report of her daughter.

On 21st April, 2014 mother along with Shakti Vahini team reached PGIMS Rohtak from Delhi where the Post mortem was supposed to be done in presence of mother. Mother waited outside the mortuary for more than 7 hours to get the post mortem done and to receive the body so as she may perform the last rites of her daughter. At around 7 pm after reaching the cemetery of sector 19 Faridabad, from Rohtak, mother burst out of cry which she was holding in her heart from last 2-3 days. The process of Police complaints and post mortem was so long that she could not get the opportunity to cry her heart out due to the long and tired process of police and hospital departments.

She covered the body of her daughter lying in the coffin with the white sheet which she was carrying with her since two days. She also sprinkled scented water on her loving daughter body with tears in her eyes. Priest performed the prayers and other rites and the coffin was then buried in the cemetery. Mother said that she is satisfied and thankful that at least she could perform the last rites of her beloved daughter.Mother is still awaiting justice for her daughter and at present fighting her battle in the city. The tired and slow system sometimes diminishes the hope for justice. Being a social activist in Shakti Vahini it was my first encounter with this system. The long hours of wait to register an FIR, to get the post mortem done or even to get a photocopy of Post Mortem report, has answered my question that why the voice of the poor does not reach the ears of judiciary.

The whole system, police department, hospital, or even the religious institutions were seemed to be handicapped to help a poor lady. But meanwhile, this incident also taught me that within us, there are some people like the employer of mother and cemetery staff, for whom their duty as human is more important than interest.

New Picture (2)On calling somebody from her village, the mother came to know that someone has brought her husband to Delhi, but unfortunately she does not know where her husband is. Her three children are now alone in the village with no one to take care of them while her husband is still missing. Day and night she just prays and hopes that someday she will explore the mystery behind her daughter’s death and whereabouts of her husband and we at Shakti Vahini are committed to fight with the collapsed system to get justice for many more Poonam and to prevent our young girls and children from this menace.

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