The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lure of life in begging bowl
- Murshidabad girl’s deportation from Jeddah blows lid off racket

Teenager Hasina Khatun has been deported from Saudi Arabia after being caught begging on the streets of Jeddah. This has blown the lid off a child-trafficking racket in the city.

Inspector-general of police (CID) Naparajit Mukherjee said sleuths grilled Hasina on Tuesday and found out about the people involved in the racket and the manner in which the teenagers are taken to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“We have arrested one person, who has revealed details about the racketeers. Sleuths are working on the information and disclosure of names will hamper investigations,’’ Mukherjee said. “The Saudi government deported her last week from Jeddah and she landed in Mumbai. Then she was brought here,’’ he added.

According to CID investigations, Hasina, originally from a village near Murshidabad, used to live off the streets. She was taken to Jeddah in September last year. “The racketeers gave Rs 5,000 to her father, convincing him that she will have a better life in West Asia. They then arranged for a fake passport for Hasina. They collected half-a-dozen teenagers — boys and girls — and took them to Kerala by train,’’ a senior police officer, probing the case said.

They were put on different flights in batches on alternate days and flown to Jeddah and the UAE. Asked why the teenagers were taken to Kerala, CID sleuth, quoting from the initial investigation report, said it is easier to fly to West Asia from there without attracting the authorities' attention.

Hasina told sleuths that on landing in Jeddah, she was initially handed over to an Arab family to work as a maid. After a couple of weeks there, she was taken to different areas to do “odd jobs’’. She was not paid but received occasional tips in Saudi currency.

“I was hungry and never got enough to eat and drink. Strangers would come and force me to work. I cried and remembered my family but there was no one there to help me,’’ she told CID officers. Ultimately, she was forced to beg. Saudi Arabian police detained her for about a week and informed the Indian authorities.

The CID said the racketeers always targeted teenagers from poor familes. Hasina, along with a few other young boys and girls from the district, left their village in Murshidabad in January last year and arrived in the city. Police said many others like Hasina were languishing in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

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