DEVESH PANDEY IN THE HINDU
A young mother of two, who was brought from West Bengal to the Capital on the promise of a better job and forced into prostitution at gunpoint and through threats to the life of her children, recently managed to escape and has got one of her sons released from their clutches. While five alleged human traffickers and their woman accomplice have been arrested, three other young women have been rescued.
Married at a tender age, the 24-year-old woman was deserted by her husband about three years ago. Left to fend for herself, she started selling vegetables and fruits at the Sealdah railway station in West Bengal. In November last year, a man approached her with an offer of a lucrative job in Delhi. Lured by better prospect, she agreed to accompany him. On November 13, she, along with her children, boarded a train to the Capital.
Soon after the woman reached Govindpuri in South-East Delhi, she was told that she was being initiated into the flesh trade. Shocked, she refused to comply with and was subjected to physical torture. She was threatened with a firearm and the traffickers held her two-year-old son captive saying she could walk out only after she raised Rs.2 lakh for them.
The victim was sexually abused in Delhi and was also sent to Haryana and Rajasthan. Along with a customer and her four-year-old son, she last went to Jaipur. On her way back on December 30, she escaped from their clutches at Subzi Mandi here. “She reached Kolkata and fearful about her captive son’s life went straight to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s residence and narrated her saga,” said Rishi Kant of non-government organisation Shakti Vahini.
Subsequently, senior police officers and Government Railway Police were instructed to take up the matter. A case was registered and a CID team led by Inspector Sarbari Bhattacharya was dispatched to Delhi. The team, in coordination with the Delhi Police and Shakti Vahini, zeroed in on the suspects.
Under the supervision of Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police Meghna Yadav, the team raided a Govindpuri house in the early hours of Sunday. Three persons named Sameer, Seebu and Kafir were arrested and three young women who had been brought from 24 Parganas in West Bengal about a fortnight ago rescued. During questioning, the accused disclosed that gang leader Sartaj Ahmed lived in his three-floor building at Sangam Vihar.
“Despite stiff resistance from the occupants, the team members gained entry and arrested Sartaj. Two live cartridges were found under his pillow,” said Mr. Kant, adding that one Chhotu was also arrested.
Sartaj purportedly disclosed that the child was in the custody of Rehana at Jyotiba Phule Nagar in Uttar Pradesh and at his instance, they reached the village in the Gajraula area around 10-30 a.m. As news of their presence spread, the woman went missing with the child and area residents offered resistance. “The area police station in-charge and a beat officer conducted searches, recovered the boy and arrested Rehana,” said Mr. Kant.The five persons arrested in Delhi were produced in a court here that granted seven days’ transit remand to the West Bengal Police. Rehana was produced at the residence of a judge in Jyotiba Phule Nagar who granted five days’ transit remand.