Alleges police inaction when she pointed out one of the accused; police say nothing incriminating found
A young Muslim girl on her way to a neighbour’s place in Diamond Harbour, located in the southern suburbs of Kolkata, was drugged by some men and bundled into a taxi that took her to a railway station. When she regained her senses the next afternoon, she found herself travelling in an auto-rickshaw along with a stranger. To add to her shock, she saw signboards of Delhi streets flitting by.
“Still under the influence of a sedative, I could not initially understand where I was. I enquired from the co-passenger who did not speak much and told me that he was taking me to a house. We then stopped at a tea-stall where I was offered a cup of tea,” said Zamila (name changed).
Zamila said she was kidnapped on March 3 when she stepped out of home to meet someone in the neighbourhood.
The auto-rickshaw dropped her outside a building at Kotla Mubarakpur in South Delhi. “He took me inside a room where another girl had already been kept. She disclosed that she was from Malda in West Bengal…there were two other men in the house with whom the young man who brought me to Delhi had a discussion. They then told me and the other girl to cook food for them. I refused, instead asking them to take me home, at which they beat me up and forced me to do the kitchen work,” said the victim.
The girls were cooking meal for the traffickers when they overheard a conversation on plans to send the two to Jammu and Kashmir for a monetary consideration. “Around the same time, the person who had brought me here called up his accomplice telling him that he had been detained by the police and wanted me to testify on his behalf about his antecedents,” said Zamila.
The thought of being transported to J&K, coupled with an apprehension of perpetual exploitation disturbed her thereafter. This made Zamila desperately look for an opportunity to escape the wrongful confinement. “And we both got that opportunity. When the other girl returned after taking a bath, she found the main door unlocked. We threw away the lock and sneaked out of the building. After walking some distance, we raised an alarm. Although the locals could not understand Bengali, they realised that we were in trouble. An area resident then called up the police,” said Zamila.
The police reached the spot immediately, following which the victim narrated the incident to them.
“They took me back to the same locality where I identified the place where we had been kept. Just then, one of the persons sharing that accommodation was spotted coming downstairs. At my instance, the police detained him for questioning. After a long questioning session, they finally let him off. I remained at the police station and the next day, I was produced before an officer who directed the police to send me to a shelter home,” she said.
Back home, Zamila’s mother and other relatives searched for her when she did not return home that fateful day. “At last, we lodged a missing complaint with the local police. I recently got a call from my daughter stating that she had been kidnapped and taken to Delhi where she was now at a shelter home. I then arranged for my travel to the Capital and got her custody,” said the victim’s mother, who left for her native place along with her daughter on Wednesday. The family of another girl also got her custody.
Stating that the police should have properly grilled the person detained at the instance of the victim, Rishi Kant of non-government organisation Shakti Vahini said they should have immediately contacted their counterparts in West Bengal which could have questioned the suspect. “They missed an opportunity to unearth the entire racket involved in organised trafficking of girls from West Bengal to Kashmir.”
For their part, the local police said they had questioned the suspect but had to release him as there was nothing incriminating against him and, therefore, he could not be kept in illegal detention.