One of the rare instances of a victim leading the police to the same dingy by-lanes to rescue another woman
The story of a young woman rescued from an infamous red-light area of the National Capital about a week ago is one of the rare instances of a victim of human trafficking turning into a rescuer. By leading the police to another victim late on Sunday night, she showed indomitable courage while traversing the same dingy by-lanes where she was once physically tortured and even locked up in a closet by flesh traders.
Twenty-four-year-old Ranjana (name changed), a mother of two children from the poverty-ridden South 24 Parganas of West Bengal, was beguiled into a trap laid by one Bappa Haldar. He approached her with a lucrative offer of a better job in Kolkata and hoping for a bright future, she agreed to accompany on March 15. To her surprise the train she boarded was destined for Delhi.
“When I asked where I was being taken, he started fighting with me. The co-passengers objected, at which he claimed that I was his wife. I screamed I was not. He then threatened to push me off the running train,” said Ranjana.
Ranjana was first taken to a house in Kotla Mubarakpur in South Delhi where she was kept with another girl and then taken to a brothel on G.B. Road by a woman conduit. “When I refused to comply with, they beat me up with sticks and shoes.”
Following a missing report lodged by her husband, the West Bengal police came across the mobile phone number of a suspect showing G.B. Road as its location. “Deputy Superintendent of Police Papiya Sultana, nodal-officer of the South 24 Parganas human trafficking cell, immediately shared the information with us. We sought assistance from the Kamla Market police which raided the place on March 31. The woman was finally found locked up in a closet,” said Rishi Kant of NGO Shakti Vahini.
Even as she was being rescued, a minor girl trafficked from South 24 Parganas was being kept confined in another room of the same brothel. “I worked as a domestic help at Baliganj in Kolkata where I met a young man who befriended me. Promising a better salary at another house in Kolkata, he made me board a train on March 6. Realising that I was being taken somewhere else, I confronted him. He then took me to the lavatory and beat me up. This happened at the Howrah railway station,” said Kavita (name changed).
The other victim
The victim was brought to Delhi, kept in a house and then sold off to the owner of the brothel where she was physically tortured.
A five-member police team from West Bengal was about to start for Delhi to take custody of Ranjana when Kavita's brother, a tailor, pleaded that he also be allowed to accompany them to the Capital as he suspected that his sister had also met the same fate.
“Initially we thought that she had eloped and married someone, but then we learnt that she had been taken to Delhi,” he said, adding that the trafficking agent later called up his mother stating that the girl had been sold off.
On rescue mission
Soon after the police got Ranjana's custody, Kavita's brother showed his sister's photograph to her. “We all were stunned, and the brother elated, when she instantly recognised her and revealed that she had been kept in the same brothel. In desperation, the brother requested us to raid the place immediately. But we had to wait for an opportune time,” said a police officer.
Following counselling sessions and motivation by the police, Ranjana finally agreed to help them rescue the girl. “The raid was planned in coordination with the Kamla Market police. Accompanied by women police personnel, Ranjana led us to the brothel from where the girl was rescued around 11 p.m. on Sunday,” said Mr. Kant.
When the victim was taken to a nearby hospital from a routine medical examination, the doctors discovered that she had been given abortion pills.
The girl would be produced before the Child Welfare Committee on Tuesday and then taken back to her native place. “All necessary steps will be taken to rehabilitate the victims,” said Mr. Kant.