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Assam girls rescued from Mumbai brothels

Dhubri, Oct. 25: Six girls from Dhubri who were sold off to brothels in Mumbai a few months ago were rescued and brought back to the district by police last night after they sniffed out the trafficking racket based on a fatherís complaint about his missing daughter.

The hunt began after Hanif Ali lodged an FIR at Kharuabandha police outpost when his son-in-law returned from Mumbai without his daughter.

Aliís daughter was married to Jehirul Islam of Kalapani village last year.

This July, the couple left for Mumbai along with two of Islamís friends. They sold off the girl to one of the brothels at Indranagar in Mumbaiís Thane for Rs 25,000.

When his daughter did not return home from Mumbai, Ali smelt a rat and lodged the FIR.

The police swung into action and arrested Barak Ali and Nazrul Haque, the two men who had accompanied the couple to Mumbai.

Though Islam is still absconding, the police extracted enough information from the arrested duo.

With help from Maharashtra police, the Dhubri police raided the brothel and freed not only Aliís daughter but also five other women from the district.

Dhubri superintendent of police Dipak Choudhury said this trafficking racket was a large one and was connected with many other rackets operating in other parts of the country.

ďDuring our preliminary interrogation, we found that the Jehirul Islam group was connected with several woman trafficking rackets in Mumbai, Calcutta and Delhi,Ē Choudhury added. Trafficking of women from the state, mostly from poverty-stricken and underdeveloped villages in minority-dominated pockets, is assuming menacing proportions.

In September, two minors, who were sold to a brothel in Siliguri, escaped from the owner and reached Guwahati.

The police later said a 23-year-old woman, Tara Begum, promised jobs as household helps to the two girls, aged 12 and 13.

Begum took them to Siliguri and sold them off to a brothel owner.

The girls told the police that they were sold to a brothel in the Alu Patty area of Siliguri.

They were forced to entertain clients who visited the brothel and when they refused they would be beaten up.

Unable to bear the torture, they finally plucked up courage and escaped. They went straight to New Jalpaiguri railway station. Local residents helped them board a Guwahati-bound train after they narrated their story and pleaded for help.

They also told the police that there were other girls from Assam who also wanted to escape from the clutches of those who run the racket.

In August, a 19-year-old girl from Nagaon jumped off the second floor of an Agra building to escape from a brothel after seven months of torture.

She fell in front of a grocery store and suffered minor injuries. Local residents quickly took her to hospital and later handed her over to police.

The teenager, who had left home in January with an acquaintance who promised her a job as a household help in Pune, was the fifth woman from Nagaon to be rescued from a brothel since June.

A study conducted by an NGO, Global Organisation for Life Development (GOLD), some years ago, found that 48 per cent of the prostitutes in Khalpara, a red light area in Siliguri, are from Assam and three per cent from the other northeastern states.

Of them, 70 per cent are below 20 years, the study said.

According to the NGO, girls from different districts of Assam, such as Goalpara, Barpeta, Dhubri, Darrang, Sonitpur and Barak Valley, are trafficked to other parts of the country.

Hasina Kharbhih, team leader of the Impulse NGO Network, the first organisation to take up the issue of trafficking in the Northeast, said: ďAssam, Meghalaya and Mizoram are the worst affected in the region, followed by Manipur.Ē

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