Nine minors, including two boys, rescued in joint operation by police, NGO

Two alleged human traffickers, including a woman running an illegal placement agency, have been arrested in a joint operation by the Crime Branch of Delhi Police and a non-government organisation. While nine minors, including two boys, have been rescued, the gang is suspected to have brought over 200 children in the past eight years.

The arrests have come as part of a drive launched against dubious placement agencies operating in different parts of the city.

The breakthrough came when NGO Shakti Vahini tipped off the Crime Branch that a 16-year-old girl had been brought by a person from Assam to be sold in the Capital. The police developed the information and through a decoy contacted the trafficker to strike a deal with him. The accused, Ismail Ahmed (32), demanded Rs.1.5 lakh after which he was arrested at Shakurpur by a team led by Inspector Jitender Singh. The victim was rescued and sent to a care home after medical examination.

During interrogation, Ismail disclosed that he hailed from Assam and had been bringing minors from different parts of Assam and West Bengal to Delhi on the pretext of better earning prospects. He would hand over the children to Babita (25), who ran a placement agency at Shakurpur.

At his instance, the police arrested the woman and rescued eight more minor children from different houses where they had been working as domestic helps. While one of the girls had been trafficked from Bangladesh, it is suspected that another victim had also been brought from there. Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini said the victims were first trafficked to Assam a few months ago, their names were changed to conceal their real identities and then they were brought to Delhi by the traffickers. One of the girls would occasionally talk to her parents over the phone.

The children did not know whether their salaries were being paid to their parents. Most of them were not in contact with their families.

Investigations have revealed that Babita and her husband Praveen, who is absconding, charged Rs.20,000 to Rs.35,000 from those employing the children as domestic helps on an 11-month agreement. “They would also collect Rs.2,200 to Rs.2,500 as monthly salary per children,” said a police officer. It is suspect that the money collected by the placement agency would never reach the victims' families.

Investigations have suggested that the accused used to sell off teenaged girls and supply younger children as domestic helps. In the past eight years, Praveen and his accomplices had brought a large number of minors from Assam and West Bengal, particularly from Jalpaiguri. While many of them have now attained adulthood, the police are making efforts to know the whereabouts of 60 minor victims.

The carriers through whom the children are brought here are mostly women who accompany them from one transit point to the other and hand them over to another group to evade detection.

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