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Trafficking survivors in Bengal seek inter-State probe by AHTU

Survivors of trafficking at a meeting with GGBK activists in South 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.   | Photo Credit: File photo

Rejecting the investigation by the local police station, trafficking survivors in West Bengal are seeking probe by Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) to ensure that the perpetrators are arrested.

In February 2020, Sahiba (name changed), who was rescued in 2017 from Pune, approached senior police officers of Baruipur police district in South 24 Parganas demanding that the case be transferred from the local police station to AHTU. After the unit took over the probe, she accompanied the policemen to Pune and got four of the accused arrested.

In at least two cases in 2019, the survivors hailing from South 24 Parganas approached the Calcutta High Court and got necessary directions for AHTU to investigate the matter.

Selima Khan (name changed) was kidnapped in 2012. After being rescued from Pune, she kept following the status of her case. A chargesheet was filed by the local police in September 2017. She, however, was not satisfied with the probe and sought the help of Calcutta High Court so that the probe was handed over to AHTU.

Another survivor Nilima ( name changed) was also upset that the traffickers who took her away from the State did not figure in the police investigation and approached the Calcutta High Court on the issue. The High Court in both the cases directed that a probe by AHTU should be conducted.

Both Selima and Nilima were not only successful in getting the probe conducted by the AHTU, but they also accompanied the police team when it carried out raids in Pune in 2019. One of the accused in Selima’s case was arrested during the raids.

‘Trafficking destination’

Subhasree Raptan of Goranbose Gram Bikash Kendra (GGBK), an organisation working with survivors of trafficking in south Bengal, said that the three cases highlight the need for inter-State investigation in cases of trafficking.

“In most of the cases of trafficking we come across, the survivors are rescued from a different State. In almost every case, there is need for inter-State investigation. The local police despite best efforts cannot ensure that,” Ms. Raptan said.

The activist said that after Delhi, Pune has emerged as a destination where lots of girls from Bengal are being rescued. “In the past few years we have seen 20 to 25 cases where girls have been rescued from Pune,” she said.

Activists like Ms. Raptan have been working to combat trafficking of women and girls in Bengal, which for years has remained the hub of trafficking. She said there is little clarity on which wing of the police should deal with such cases or what charges must be pressed. On many occasions when children go missing sections of kidnapping of Indian Penal Code instead of trafficking are pressed by the police.

While the latest reports of NCRB (for 2017 and 2018) reflect a drop in the number of trafficking cases in Bengal, the data on missing children indicate that the State is a hotspot for children gone missing. The NCRB Report of 2017 had stated that one in every six missing children is from Bengal.

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2020 12:05:25 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/trafficking-survivors-in-bengal-seek-inter-state-probe-by-ahtu/article30954173.ece

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