New Delhi, Feb. 4: Aam Aadmi Party volunteers last night accompanied three Ugandan women to the police station to lodge a trafficking complaint and today showed that off as “vindication” of minister Somnath Bharti’s midnight raid at Khirke Extension last month.
Education minister Manish Sisodia told a news conference that the women, who have said in their police complaint that they were forced into prostitution in the capital, had approached Bharti for help.
“Those running the racket threatened the women that the embassy and the police is also involved in it, so there is no point complaining to them. That is the reason why they came to us,” Sisodia said.
Bharti has transformed from a “villain to a hero”, he declared.
“They do not trust Delhi police or the Ugandan high commission. Instead they came to Somnath Bharti who has been branded a villain by many,” Sisodia added.
Bharti played the part and spoke of the need to “free” the women from “this hell”.
But civil society activists were not impressed.
James Varghese of the Indian Rescue Mission, who last year collaborated with Thailand-based NGO NightLight — which focuses on trafficked victims from Africa — to rescue a pregnant Ugandan woman forced into prostitution in Mumbai described Bharti’s raid as a “dangerous precedent”.
“The trafficking of women from Africa is nothing new. Huge numbers of women are trafficked from these countries and are mostly forced into sex trade. However, there is a difference between raiding a place to rescue a victim and raiding a place to bust a drug or a sex racket. One has to be absolutely sure before raiding someone’s private space. These kind of raids set dangerous precedents,” said Varghese.
Payel Pandya, a social activist who works with sex workers in the city and was part of the protests against the AAP after the raid on Africans’ homes, said: “The point here is not to debate whether prostitution was taking place or not. The debate was always on the nature and process of the raids. What Bharti did was illegal and there is no vindication for that.”
The AAP has promised to hold a dharna for African women in the capital.