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Trafficking of Bangladeshi women and children in India

Trafficking of Bangladeshi women and children in India
A woman arrested by Indian border security force on the allegation of crossing the border illegally. The NGO however says the woman is victim of trafficking.

An official of NGO draws attention of the Chairman of India’s National Human Rights Commission through a letter dated July 15, 2021 complaining about the way the border security force and police dealing the cases

The NGO official also shared the data according to which 103 women and 30 children were trafficked in India since January this year  


The Chairman, National Human Rights Commission

Manav Adhikar Bhawan, New Delhi

I again want to attract your attention over the situation where the administration did not follow the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division), Government of India in connection to deal with the matter of women and child victim survivors of sex-trafficking from neighboring countries and therefore, these victims are suffering highly without any intentional offence committed by them.

On 14 July 2021 Border Security Force, Frontier Head Quarter North Bengal, Siliguri released one press statement with proud that their troops of 61 Battalion BSF apprehended a Bangladeshi woman namely Halima Begum, aged about 35 years, daughter of Abdul Hanib, resident of village Hamar, Madanpur Bhogduma, P.O. & P.S. Birganj, Dist. Danajpur, Bangladesh during the time of crossing international border from India to Bangladesh through unfenced area of Hili Border Out Post. In the said press release it was officially informed to the public that the victim woman was trafficked fifteen years ago through Malda border with the help of an Indian tout namely Samrat resident of Bihar. Samrat took her to district Mansa, Punjab where the victim was sold to an Indian national namely Mr. Sarjit Singh for Rs. 10,000/- who exploited and kept the victim at his home for eleven years and gave birth to a child. The victim somehow escaped from the house of Sarjit Singh and reached Mansa bus stand where she met an unknown lady who handed over her to one Mr. Tota Singh and he also exploited her. The victim was managed to escape from his house and somehow reached Hili, South Dinajpur district in West Bengal to cross the international border with intention to meet her family in Bangladesh and that time she was apprehended by the BSF and handed over to Hili Police Station for legal action.

From this official statement of the BSF, Frontier Head Quarter North Bengal with pictures and documents released for Press, it is revealed that victim had no intention or purpose to illegally enter in our country rather she is a victim of sex trafficking and for last fifteen years she was exploited by two Indians and gave birth one child. In this case several anomalies lies –

First, no person can print or publish in print, electronic, social media, etc. the name of the rape victim or even in a remote manner disclose any facts which can lead to the victim being identified and which should make her identity known to the public at large. According to section 228A of Indian Penal Code anyone publishing the name of a rape victim is liable to be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years and shall also be liable to fine. But here Border Security Force authority, North Bengal Frontier Head Quarter published their official statement regarding the case and disclosed the name and even photos of this victim woman and thereby revealed her identity open to all. Here, the BSF violates the general rule of law which derogates the social justice to a sex trafficked victim.

Woman-TraffickingSecondly, BSF 61 Battalion apprehended the victim lady and handed over to the Hili Police station for registration a case. Here again Border Security Force authority and police officials of Hili Police Station violates the advisory issued by the Government of India vide office memorandum No. 14051/14/2011-F.VI of Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division) Government of India dated 1st May, 2012 where it was clearly stated that the foreign victims of human trafficking are found without valid passport or visa and where women or child is found to be a victim, she should not be prosecuted under Foreigners Act and immediate action must be taken to repatriate the victim.

Thirdly, from one reliable source we received information that a case was registered in vide Hili Police Station case number 141/2021 under section 14A (a)/(b) of Foreigners Act against Ms. Halima. Here BSF in their official statement told that the victim was trafficked for sex and exploited by Mr. Samrat; Mr. Sarjit Singh and Mr. Tota Singh for last fifteen years but astonishingly BSF did not mention those names in its complaint to police. a case against Mr. Samrat, Mr. Sarjit Singh and Mr. Tota Singh. So police also cannot investigate the matter properly. That means if any foreigner became victimized of sex trafficking and she has been exploited for several years in this country, the government and administration cannot take proper and due action.

Press Release of Indian Border Security Force

It is a systemic violation of law by the administration and judiciary in the state of West Bengal. On 14.07.2021 the victim was produced before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court, Balurghat in connection with GR case number 851/2021 and Hili Police Station case number 141/2021 under section 14A (a)/(b) of Foreigners Act and the victim lady was sent to judicial custody for 14 days without given a little respect to the advisory issued by the Government of India vide office memorandum No. 14051/14/2011-F.VI of Ministry of Home Affairs (Foreigners Division) Government of India dated 1st May, 2012. Victim of slavery became accused of a crime.

As a member state of SAARC, it is duty and responsibility of Indian state to follow the resolutions passed there. It is constitutional duty of every citizen of India to foster respect as enshrined in Article 51C of Indian Constitution. SAARC, in its Convention in Kathmandu 2010 and in Paro, Bhutan on 11-12 April 2013, clearly took stand against trafficking of women and children. Ministry of Home Affairs issued Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to all states and Union Territories. Judicial Colloquiums were held to sensitize the decision by the Government of India. If, the Standard Operating Procedure is not followed by police, BSF, even judiciary; the erring officials be booked accordingly. Section 12 (f) of PHRA 1993 empowers Your Commission to study the treaties and make recommendations thereto.

Last but not the least the detention of the victim women is just only to harass upon his private life when she was exploited in this land for last fifteen years. Trafficked persons lose their voice under the situation of a detainee. The BSF, police and judiciary’s action towards this woman victim is not according to established legal procedure.

I want attract your attention to a grievous systematic violation by the stakeholders of our criminal justice delivery system with evidences. Out of thousands of our complaints to Your Commission and respective government departments, we are hereby affixing references only a few from January to June 2021, where Bangladeshi trafficked women and children were charged with criminal offences by the BSF / police, in this year only.

Sir, I again tell you this systemic violation should be stopped and urged to your authority to take stringent step in connection with this case and recommended to the Government of India and Government of West Bengal and its line departments including judiciary a proper legal framework to deal with trafficking / slavery cases in line with the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime” adopted by General Assembly Resolution 55/25 of 15 November 2000.

Kirity Roy

Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) and National Convenor (PACTI) Program Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, Balaji Place, Shibtala, Srirampur, Hooghly

(Kirity Roy has shared the letter on Google Group of writers and publishers)