The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Girl caught in sleaze storm

Nabagram (Murshidabad), Dec. 31: A 14-year-old girl has become a pawn to police and political parties, while she and her family members came up with conflicting versions of her abduction by an alleged flesh trade racket.

She resurfaced in the CPM office here today, a week after her mother had alleged a CPM panchayat member’s involvement in the abduction in an FIR, the police said.

The girl was produced before the media, to whom she claimed to having left her house and family by choice. But waiting in the local Congress office, her mother denied the daughter’s version.

Saheda Bibi alleged that on December 21, CPM panchayat member Hasratullah Sheikh, in whose house the girl worked as a maid, had handed over her daughter to women traffickers.

Saheba named Sheikh in the FIR lodged with Nabagram police station on November 23.

“Three days ago, my daughter and the person who took her away, Osman Ghani, were staying in the CPM office here. They have not only not returned my child to me, I have not been allowed to meet her,” Saheda alleged.

The girl had gone to Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh, said CPM zonal committee secretary Sunil Ghosh. “We got hold of a phone number and called her and asked her to return. We will hand her over to the police at the right time,” he added.

Sitting at the party office, the girl in the eye of the storm claimed she had left her village following a quarrel with her mother. “I went away with Osman because he said he would get me married off and I could settle down in Uttar Pradesh. But, instead, I was brought back here. Osman even sold a gold ornament I had on our way back,” she said.

Local Mahila Congress chairperson Lakshmi Roy Chowdhury demanded that the girl either be produced in court or returned to her mother. “The police are allowing the CPM to illegally keep the girl inside their office,” she said.

Investigations revealed that the girl had been working in Sheikh’s residence, without pay, for several years. The mother had entered into an agreement that the girl’s wedding expenses would be paid.

“Whatever my daughter has told you in the party office is a lie. The CPM wants to cleanse itself of the charges of harbouring people involved in flesh trade,” Saheda said.

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