West Bengal shares international borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. A range of socio- economic factors in the region along with weak regulatory measures have led to burgeoning human trafficking across these borders, particularly in women and children. Two significant factors that currently contribute to trafficking in West Bengal are disparities in regional socio- economic structures and long, porous borders between India and neighbouring Bangladesh and Nepal.
About the Anti Human Trafficking Unit, CID, West Bengal
Concerned with the rising crimes against women and children, especially the growing menace of organized crime in the form of trade in human beings for the purposes of abuse and exploitation, the Government of West Bengal passed an order establishing a specialized cell to counter trafficking under the aegis of the Criminal Investigation Department, West Bengal.
Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU) is the nodal agency for rescuing trafficked humans and creating awareness against trafficking in the state. It started functioning in 2011. AHTU has rescued a large number of trafficked girls and arrested many traffickers, international and interstate gangs. In a recent case, AHTU was able to arrange for deposition of two victim girls through video conference who had earlier repatriated to Bangladesh. Such video conference is first of its kind. During recent years, High Court has entrusted AHTU particularly with eight Habeas Corpus writs and this unit has successfully disposed of the same, informed Syed Waker Raza, Special Superintendent. Besides, AHTU organises sensitisation programmes at regular intervals. Recently, AHTU has been able to submit charge sheet against a person within 15 days in relation to a case under POCSO in Nadia, said Sarbari Bhattacharya, Officer in Charge, AHTU.
Activities of AHTU
The cell functions as a nodal agency combating trafficking crimes in West Bengal. The members of its team are specialists in raid and rescue operations and specifically undertake the following activities:
(a) Compilation of detailed data regarding Immoral Traffic(Prevention) Act and trafficking cases in West Bengal.
(b) Collects information covertly through various channels, conducts raid and rescue operations in brothels, hotels, road side “dhabas”, rescues minor/major girls and often boys from being exploited for commercial sex or bonded labour and investigates such cases.
(c) Assumes control of investigation of cases of special interest as notified by superior officers or by the Hon’ble High Court and conducts raid-and- rescue operations.
(d) The unit also monitors trial of special cases.
(e) The unit organises sensitisation courses on investigation of human trafficking cases for police officers of all ranks.
(f) The unit also organises sensitisation programs at various schools and villages with the help of NGOs.
(g) The unit liaises with government-authorized NGOs and involves them closely in raid and rescue operations, counseling & rehabilitation of rescued minors.
(h) The unit pursues the closure of make-shift brothels against house- owners who allow commercial sexual exploitation on their premises.
(i) The unit has succeeded in getting closure order of two hotels under Mahishadal police station in Purba Midnapore.
(j) The unit has till now achieved conviction in six cases of Human Trafficking.
By Our Correspondent