November 7, 2011 : The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has once again received information from MASUM, a human rights organisation working in West Bengal, concerning the kidnapping of a girl, allegedly for child trafficking and enforced prostitution. The parents of the girl when approached the Swarupnagar Police Station of North 24 Parganas, it is reported that the police officers demanded bribe to initiate any action upon the complaint. The victim is reportedly held in captivity in Uttar Pradesh, and the family of the girl has informed all the details they have obtained upon their own inquiry to the Swarupnagar Police Station. Instead of taking any action, the police however have refused to conduct an investigation or help rescue the girl. This is not the first case however, that the MASUM and AHRC are reporting concerning child trafficking from poverty-struck districts of West Bengal state, like North 24 Parganas and Murshidabad, where child trafficking is rampant and flourishes due to corrupt police officers and their alleged connection with the criminals.
The victim in the case is a girl named Amrita Sur (name changed), aged about-13 years, from Scheduled Caste community, having residence at Gokulpur village, under the jurisdiction of Swarupnagar Police Station in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal state.
It is reported that two persons (one male and one female) kidnapped the victim girl on 5 January 2011. On 7 January, the victim’s father lodged a complaint regarding the incident at Swarupnagar Police Station. The police only issued a General Diary Entry concerning the incident, bearing number 337 dated 7 January 2011. They refused to take any action upon the complaint.
Finding that the police is of no help, the family searched for the victim at many places, but was unsuccessful to obtain any information until June. On 4 June 2011 the father of the victim came to know from one Mr Mithun (mobile no. 9126932331) that his daughter had been trafficked and that the trafficker, along with the victim girl could be found in the residence of one Mr Gurucharan Bachar of Harishpur village, in North 24 Parganas district. The victim’s father immediately went to this house and upon reaching there he found a person named Mr Mosayab Hasmi at the house. The victim’s father noticed his identity card issued by the Election Commission of India, and found the particulars about him as “Mosayeb Hasmi, aged 28 years, son of Mr Rojid Hasmi, House number 03/128, Mahalla Rampur Karkhana, village and police station: Rampur Karkhana, Deoria district, post code 274001, Uttar Pradesh”.
Mosayeb Hasmi informed the victim’s father that he did not take away the victim girl, but his elder brother Mr Eklakh Hasmi has custody of the girl and that she is kept in his brother’s dance group. Mosayeb Hasmi also gave his brother’s mobile telephone number (being no. 09453011794) to the villagers. Immediately from there the brother of the victim girl, Mr Haran contacted on the mobile number of Mr Eklakh Hasmi from his mobile number 8016689293. Eklakh Hasmi upon receiving the call let the victim girl to talk on the phone. The victim girl informed that the traffickers has renamed her as ‘Guria’ and that they have also threatened her that they would kill her should any of her family members dared to ‘irritate them’ by calling on telephone.
Fearing for his child’s safety and eager to return her home, the victim’s father went to Swarupnagar Police Station several times with a written complaint containing all the aforesaid information against the alleged traffickers. On each occasion, the police officers harassed and humiliated him and refused to take any action. This continued for about four months.
On 28 September 2011 MASUM’s District Human Rights Monitor (DHRM) accompanied with the father of the victim went to Swarupnagar Police Station to pursue and convince the police officers to register the written complaint and take actions upon it. At the police station, in the absence of Officer-in-Charge, they met one Mr Biswajit, a police officer attached with that police station who was busy in a private meeting with some people. In the chair of Duty Station In-Charge, one Mr Manoranjan Babu was sitting, wearing only one “Gamchha” (local bath towel). Mr Manoranjan was under the influence of alcohol at that time and he was preparing to go to the bathroom. He took the picture of victim girl and started using slangs to refer to the girl and her family. When the DHRM protested, some policemen entered the room and took him inside another room by force.
After repeated pleading the police accepted the written complaint of the victim’s father as First Information Report (FIR) vide Swarupnagar Police Station Case number 258/2011 dated 29 September 2011 under sections 363, 365 and 366 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
Mr Kartik Ch. Mondal the Sub-Inspector of Police at Swarupnagar Police Station and also the Investigating Officer of the case then started calling the victim’s father to the police station and abusing him orally, even by informing him that there would be no gain of rescuing the girl as her character would have been already ruined. The said police officer also demanded money from the victim’s father on the excuse of rescuing the victim girl from Uttar Pradesh.
Frustrated the victim’s father met Mr Ananda Chatterjee, the Officer-in-Charge, of the police station and told him the unruly behaviour of the Investigating Officer and about his reluctance to rescue the victim girl, but the Officer-in-Charge did not pay heed. As a result of this apathy of the police officers at Swarupnagar Police Station, from the Officer-in-Charge to the Investigating Officer of the case, the accused persons are still remain free and the victim girl is yet to be rescued and her helpless father is already physically down with mental agony and pain apprehending danger to his beloved daughter.
North 24 Parganas, like many other districts of West Bengal like Murshidabad district is a place where some of the poorest people in the state live. AHRC’s local partner organisation working against child trafficking and child prostitution in Uttar Pradesh, GURIA, informs the AHRC that several of the children they rescue from the red-light areas of cities like Varanasi are kidnapped or otherwise trafficked from North 24 Parganas and Murshidabad districts of West Bengal. The AHRC has confirmed information that in many cases the criminal syndicates that kidnap or traffic children within India and also from neighbouring countries like Nepal and Bangladesh operate with the connivance of the local police. The conduct of Swarupnagar police, strongly suggests that some of the officers at this station might also be under the illegal financial clout of these criminal gangs.
In addition the conduct of the police officer, suggesting to the victim’s father that there is use of rescuing her daughter since her daughter by now might be of ruined character indicates the insensitivity of the law enforcement agencies to the plight of the trafficked children, in particular of the girl child. Further it also illuminates the alarming and misconceived notion in the country about the ‘purity’ of women and girls, should they happen to fall into the hands of criminals or even in cases where they are trafficked for sex. The attitude is due to the complete insensitivity and awareness of gender rights, in particular the unique problems the female child face, at home, and even after recovery from the hands of a criminal syndicate. This insensitivity also hampers the rescue process since the officers often misbehave with the victim upon rescue. The society also treats the victim as “responsible” for falling into the hands of the traffickers, and often blames the parents for not being careful about their girl child, and for not safeguarding her ‘purity’. Such gender-based prejudices also prevail among the educated and the rich. Such insensitivity also poses problems for the proper rehabilitation of a rescued victim, in particular, those who are poor. It is reflected even in the courts, where judicial officers who deal with victims, being insensitive to the plight of a victim of child trafficking, in particular a girl child, ask questions to the child or to its parents as if the entire incident happened due to the contributory negligence of the child or that of its parents. Due to this and the social stigma attached to the girl child being ‘polluted’ after trafficking in some cases prevents the parents from even lodging a complaint when their child goes missing.
The traffickers to their benefit exploit all of this liberally, and hence the criminal trade of children prevails in some of the poorest rural villages of India and North 24 Parganas is a shocking example to it.
Source : www.humanrights.asia