| Imran Khan and Lakshmi. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
Lakshmi Lala, 19, who lives in a slum along the railway tracks between Ballygunge and Dhakuria stations, was rescued by 21-year-old Imran Khan from a brothel in Pune in May. The two will tie the knot next month.
'I have spoken to my parents and they have agreed,' said Imran.
Lakshmi's father is a rickshaw-puller and mother a domestic help. Imran earns his living by supplying kitchen trolleys to offices and homes in Pune.
Lakshmi's ordeal started when she met Raj, a youth from the Park Circus area, who allegedly promised to get her a good job. 'I believed him. But he drugged me and took me to Pune, where I was kept locked in a hotel,' Lakshmi recalled. 'Later, I was taken to a brothel, where I was confined for one-and-a-half years.'
Imran one day visited the brothel with his friends. 'I went to Lakshmi's room, where she narrated her plight,' Imran told Metro. He assured Lakshmi that he would rescue her, but when he offered money to the brothel-keeper in exchange for the girl's freedom, he was shown the door.
'Thereafter, I used to be tortured regularly. They did not even allow me to go out,' Lakshmi shuddered.
Imran gave her a mobile phone so that she could contact him in an emergency. But the brothel-keeper discovered the phone and seized it.
'That night, May 22, I went to her and we stayed awake plotting the escape. At 9 the next morning, when everyone in the brothel was sleeping, we escaped,' Imran said.
They hid at the home of one of Imran's friends for five days. He received several threat calls during that time.
On May 28, they reached Calcutta. Imran soon went back to seek his parents' permission to marry Lakshmi.
Diganta, a social organisation, has taken responsibility of the marriage. 'The girl's parents are poor and cannot arrange funds for the wedding,' said a spokesperson of the organisation.
Post-marriage, Imran plans to settle in Calcutta and set up a business.
Lakshmi has told police that 35 women from the city are still in the brothel. An officer of the anti-immoral traffic section said: 'We are verifying her statement. We are also looking for Raj. A team will be sent to Pune within a fortnight to raid the brothel.'