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Girl rescued from brothel

Kalimpong, June 25: A 17-year-old girl from a village in the Kalimpong subdivision was rescued from a brothel in Pune and handed over to her family yesterday.

Prerna Gurung (name changed), who had allegedly been sold for Rs 1 lakh to the brothel by a woman in March last year, was rescued by the anti-human trafficking cell of the Hill Social Welfare Society with the help of the Rescue Foundation, a Maharashtra-based NGO.

“I had known the woman, who took me to Pune, for only about three months. She lured me on the promise of a job. However, once there, she forced me into a life of hell,” said Prerna, who is illiterate.

Uden Bhutia, the co-ordinator of the Kalimpong-based society’s anti-trafficking cell, said Prerna had actually been rescued in February, but in the absence of a shelter for trafficked girls in Kalimpong, she had to be kept at such a facility in Murshidabad.

“After Prerna’s parents had approached us saying the girl was missing, we made inquiries and found that she was in a brothel in Pune. We then got in touch with the foundation and it took us almost a year to pull it off. The girl was actually rescued by the foundation,” said the co-ordinator.

For the initial one month, Prerna had stayed in the Mumbai shelter of the foundation before she was shifted to Murshidabad.

“We brought her to Kalimpong yesterday, and handed over the girl to the family. Prior to that, we had extensive consultation with her family members over weeks, and only after everything was settled, we brought Prerna here,” said Bhutia.

This, Bhutia explained, was necessary to ensure that the victim did not face ostracism in and outside the family.

The co-ordinator said the woman who had taken Prerna to Pune is not a resident of Kalimpong. “She used to stay in a rented place here. Our investigation is on and we are hopeful of netting her. The woman sold Prerna to the brothel for Rs 1 lakh.”

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