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Police claim sleaze racket bust

Kakdwip (South 24-Parganas) Nov. 22: Police here have busted a girl-running racket with the arrest of a youth. A hunt is on for the others in the ring.

Three schoolgirls, Soma Haldar, Mohua Biswas and Priyanka Purkait, had disappeared from a hostel in Namkhana on Tuesday. The police today claimed that the youth they picked up had taken the girls to Calcutta and put them on a Howrah-bound bus with three other young men.

The girls, residents of Mathurapur and Diamond Harbour, were Class IX and X students in a local school and stayed in the hostel run by Shyamapada Naik, with 22 other girls.

After the three failed to turn up much beyond their school hours on Tuesday, their hostel mates informed the police. Several people, including Naik, were questioned.

During interrogation, a local youth, Pradip Haldar, broke down and confessed to having taken the girls to the Esplanade bus depot. He was paid Rs 500 for the act by a person he could not name.

Sub-divisional police officer of Kakdwip Amitava Barma said Haldar has also told the police that he saw three youths board a bus bound for Howrah along with the girls. “We have sent word to the girls’ families” Barma said.

However, this is not the first time that girls have disappeared from the hostel. Barma said last time, the owner was issued a “stern warning” after the police failed to establish a case against him.

“But it seems Naik has begun a racket and we are grilling him. He might know the whereabouts of the girls,” Barma said. There is a strong possibility that he will be arrested.

Trinamul Congress MLA from Kakdwip Mantu Pakhira alleged that the hostel was a den of vice. “The police’s role in the matter is also very suspicious,” he said.

Several local gangs are allegedly involved in trafficking girls in the region luring them with jobs in Calcutta or Mumbai.

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