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Girl forced into sex trade flees

Malda, Jan. 19: A 17-year-old girl escaped from the clutches of an anganwadi worker and filed a police complaint yesterday alleging that the woman had locked her up in a room, tortured her for almost three months and forced her into prostitution.

A police source said: “The girl has lodged a complaint with us alleging that the woman forced her into prostitution, subjected her to inhuman torture and also threatened to kill her. The accused woman has fled her home and we are looking for her.”

Sources said the girl from South 24-Parganas came to Malda town last year with anganwadi worker Kajal Maity, 40. The minor has told the police that her father worked in a tailor's shop and her mother was ill.

The girl, the eldest of four children, used to work as a domestic in Kajal’s son’s house in south Calcutta.

In September last year, she was brought to Malda on the pretext of working as a domestic at Kajal’s house.

“The girl has alleged that after two weeks, Kajal began torturing her. She was kept confined into a dark room in Kajal’s house day and night and forced into prostitution,” said the source.

“The girl was chained with a belt around her neck and tied to a window grille. She has told the police that a television set was kept in her room with its volume up so that her cries for help would not be heard outside. She also alleged that she had been raped by several men everyday.”

The police said the girl had tried to flee several times earlier. The girl has also told the police that for the past 15 days, she was now allowed to see the light of day. “She said she was suffering from chest congestion and her pleas to get treated fell on deaf ears,” said the sources.

“Kajal and some local goons used to threaten the minor with dire consequences and the girl was forced to be with “clients” for Rs 1,000 to Rs 2,000. She used to be kept chained and beaten up with sticks when she did not co-operate," said the source.

Last night around 8pm, when Kajal went to a neighbour’s house, the girl managed to break open the door of the room and fled.

She went straight to the local police station and narrated her plight to the inspector-in-charge.

The police said the girl was produced in a court here today and sent to a government home for safe custody. She would be sent for medical examinations tomorrow.

Minister and district Trinamul president Sabitri Mitra said: “The incident is shocking and I expect the police to take appropriate steps against the woman, who is an anganwadi worker and supposed to look after the betterment of children and mothers.”