The Madras High Court Bench here on Wednesday ordered notice to Union Home Ministry, seeking its reply to a public interest litigation petition seeking repatriation of two Bangladeshi women lodged in a special camp for refugees at Mandapam in Ramanathapuram district.

A Division Bench of Justice K.N. Basha and Justice P. Devadass directed the Assistant Solicitor General to obtain the Ministry’s reply by January 7 and adjourned the matter thereafter. C.J. Rajan, Director, People’s Watch, a non-governmental organisation here, had filed the PIL petition.

According to the petitioner’s counsel D. Geetha, her client came across a news item recently highlighting the plight of the two women Reshma alias Shahana Begum (26) and Sabina Aktar (22), who were forced into flesh trade by miscreants after being lured to India under the promise of getting employment as housemaids.

The women were caught by the Salem police in October 2008 and booked under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act as well as the Foreigners Act.

After trial, a Sessions Court acquitted them from the charges of immoral trafficking and sentenced them to two years of imprisonment under the Foreigners Act alone.

Subsequently, they were lodged in the Salem Government Women’s home. But distressed by the prolonged incarceration, inability to understand the local language and unaware of the implications of attempting to flee, the women escaped from the government home on July 15, 2012.

The police secured them once again and produced before a lower court, which ordered that they be lodged in the special camp for refugees until their travel documents were made ready. An NGO took up the matter with the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi and got the documents processed.

The Union Home Ministry wrote to the State Home Department on November 23 asking it to take steps to repatriate the two women by December 5.

Nevertheless, the women continued to be lodged in the special camp and hence the present case.

  • They were reportedly forced into flesh trade

  • Women are lodged in camp for refugees