The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Court glare on girl-selling and police snoring

Behrampore, Sept. 4: Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court V.S. Sirpurkar and Supreme Court judge Y.K. Sabharwal today expressed concern over the alarming rise in girl trafficking in Murshidabad and the laid-back attitude of police.

As part of a mobile court programme ' a central initiative to bring justice to the villages ' the judges came here and met a group of 20 girls, who were sold off to pimps by their own family members.

Moments after the judges stepped down from a helicopter, they were greeted by a series of horror stories at Barrack Square, 250 km from Calcutta. Nightmares ' being sold off by their own people and then denied right to lodge complaints by police officers ' were narrated one after the other.

The Telegraph has been carrying reports of girls going missing not just from Murshidabad but almost all south Bengal districts. Hundreds of them are being sold to brothels across India by their husbands, neighbours or even greedy mothers every month. A few of them manage to flee the vice dens. Still fewer get rescued by the police.

“This year, only 23 cases of girl trafficking have been recorded in Murshidabad. I don’t know who is responsible for this. We will have to find out whether the police are not registering complaints or the parents of the victims are not coming forward to lodge the complaints. In many cases, parents hand over their daughters to traffickers. It is because of poor literacy in this district. The administration will have to take initiatives in this regard,” Sabharwal said.

Women, many of them mothers of girls still missing, queued up in front of the judges to relate their experience.

Asked about the police inaction, Murshidabad superintendent N.K. Singh said: “In seven months we have registered 23 cases. This is the highest number of such cases recorded in five years. In 2001, only two cases were registered.”

But what Firdausa Bibi of Madapur and others said today should make policemen hang their heads in shame.

“Khairul Bashir Sheikh married my daughter Aroba in July last year. Five days later, he left for Mumbai with her. He came back alone two months ago and said she had fled with another man. I did not believe it. When I went to the Behrampore police station, officers there refused to register a complaint because the incident took place in Mumbai,”

Layla Khatun, 15, of Andi said she was proposed marriage and taken to Mumbai last year. “I fled the city realising what awaited me.” The Burwan police station refused to let her file the complaint. “A case was started only after I met the superintendent.”

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