Gory details of human trafficking across the India-Bangladesh border came to light after the Border Security Force (BSF) apprehended a Bangladeshi woman who was attempting to sneak into India in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district on Sunday morning.
Mukta Mandal (name changed) told the authorities during interrogation that she had herself been forced into the sex trade by another Bangladeshi woman she met in Delhi and had later been tasked to fetch other unsuspecting women from border areas with the lure of good jobs.
A study conducted by NGOs and corroborated by the BSF stated that as many as 50,000 girls and women aged between 12 and 30 years are trafficked across the India-Bangladesh border every year. Over the last decade, nearly five lakh girls and women have been sent to India by elaborate trafficking rackets operating in Dhaka and Kolkata.
“There is a major racket operating along the border and further inland. I was promised a good job in India and helped across the border about 11 months ago. From West Bengal, I was taken to Delhi where I was placed under the charge of a woman who is also a Bangladeshi.
“I started living with her in Malviya Nagar. A couple of months later, she forced me into sex trade. I was helpless. She wields considerable influence and has affluent clients who have powerful contacts. I couldn’t go to the authorities as I would have been arrested as an illegal immigrant,” Mukta told the BSF after her capture.
It seems that the woman gradually came to terms with her new life as it brought in good earnings. Her aim was to help her family living in penury in Bangladesh. Recently, Mukta wished to return home. The woman in charge at Malviya Nagar granted her permission on condition that she bring back 2-3 girls from the border districts, offering them good job opportunities in India. That is how she turned into a trafficker herself.
BSF troops posted at the Farzipara border outpost in Murshidabad were alerted of a possible attempt to cross the International Boundary (IB) by the force’s Anti-Human Trafficking Unit. At around 8 am on Sunday, Mukta was nabbed.
The authorities are still not sure whether she succeeded in getting other women from Bangladesh or if they somehow managed to cross over into India using other routes. Mukta has been handed over to the police for further prosecution under the law.
The agencies are also trying to piece together her version and get to the woman in Malviya Nagar who allegedly operates the racket.
“Human trafficking is a heinous crime that affects the lives of several women. Our troops have been adequately sensitised to come down hard on human traffickers while combating other crimes such as smuggling and cross-border movement. Our efforts are yielding results and touts as well as traffickers are being caught and prosecuted under the law of the land,” said Amrish Kumar Arya, DIG, South Bengal Frontier, BSF.