Saturday, September 02, 2006

Trafficking accused convicted despite victims turning hostile

Trafficking accused convicted despite victims turning hostile

2 minor girls from Nepal caught at airport with one-way tickets; NGO lays traps using decoys and nabs accused who claimed they were his sisters

Kavitha Chowdhury

New Delhi, August 30: IF Not for alertness of social workers/NGO activists, two more minor girls from Nepal would have been trafficked into the ‘red light’ area of the Capital. They not only rescued the girls, but also trapped the traffickers. Their ingenuity managed to get the traffickers convicted recently, even though the girls themselves turned hostile in court.
Anuradha Koirala, chairperson of the NGO, Maiti Nepal from Kathmandu, was at the IGI airport on her way to Germany when she noticed two Nepali girls who had arrived from Kathmandu. They seemed lost and were crying. Koirala talked to the two girls, and suspecting something amiss, contacted another NGO, STOP in Delhi, to take custody of the girls.
Says Roma Debabrata of STOP, “The girls said they were waiting for their brothers. They had one-way air tickets. We called up on the mobile numbers provided by them and one of the men who answered said he would come and pick them up. Although we waited for two hours, no one turned up.”

Suspecting that this was a trafficking ring, the STOP employees went about setting a trap to nab the traffickers. They called up the mobile number again the next day and asked the man, Yanden Lama, to come over to Ramleela Ground bus stop to receive his “sisters”.
Two women employees of the organisation were taken along, of them one was a Nepal national and the other spoke Nepali fluently. They were taken along as decoys in place of the two girls. When they reached the bus stand, they met a woman, Jal Maya, and the man named Yanden Lama. Says Debabrata: “The man and the woman identified our two employees as their sisters. Our doubts were confirmed and we now knew that these two had never seen the two girls from Nepal before. They intended to push these girls into prostitution. “Every other day, girls from Nepal are trafficked across the border and the traffickers pose as their close relatives.”
Debabrata assured them that she would drop them to their homes in Majnu ka Tila, but took them to the police station instead. Again, to confirm their suspicions, the two girls were shown another couple, and the two identified them as their brother and sister. The two, however, did not support the prosecution’s stand in the court. They denied that they had been lured to Delhi by false job promises and insisted that the accused were their relatives. Despite this, the court took cognisance of the circumstantial evidence and convicted the accused to three years’ imprisonment and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000. The court took note of the fact that the accused had given contradictory statements. Moreover, the court observed that the girls had one-way air tickets and they were not received at the airport, which “clearly shows that the girls were imported to India”. In addition, the conduct of the accused and the girls provided “unrebutted and unshaken evidence” that the girls had been brought into the country for flesh trade, the court said. Looking at the financial position of the accused and the girls, the court said in its order, it does not appear that they could travel by air. Rather it appears that the girls did not intend to return to Nepal. The accused had failed to prove that the girls are their sisters.


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