New Delhi, July 17: Police have rescued three minor girls from Jharkhand's Gumla and Ramgarh from a house in West Delhi where they were kept captive and primed for flesh trade before being sold to pimps.
Aged between 13 and 17, the Jharkhand minors have an Uttar Pradesh girl to thank. A fellow captive, this girl from Loni somehow called up her parents last week, saying the people she had befriended had confined her in an unknown place and were making her do "wrong things". Though her call got disconnected, it set into motion police investigation that traced the call to Sitapuri in West Delhi.
After doing a recce of underdeveloped neighbourhood, home to many Myanmar refugees, for a day, police zeroed in on a house where strangers often came and went.
On Monday night, the police raided the house and rescued the four girls, three from Jharkhand and the one from Uttar Pradesh. The girls have been sent to a district shelter home in Ghaziabad.
Three men, including one police know only as Raju, have been sent to judicial custody. Two others, including Raju's alleged wife, are on the run.
Ghaziabad DSP Ranvijay Singh told The Telegraph it was a lucky shave for the minors. "They had not yet been sold to pimps," he said.
Raju and others were from Muzaffarpur and Darbhanga in Bihar, the DSP said. In Delhi, their job was to befriend runaway girls loitering in public places in Delhi, especially the railway station.
"Promising them jobs, they would bring the girls to this Sitapuri home, keep them captive until they were sold into flesh trade," Singh said.
"In the house, the woman the girls knew as Raju's wife would force them to drink liquor and watch pornography," a source said. Apparently, pictures of girls would be sent to prospective clients on WhatsApp, with their price ranging between Rs 40,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh.
Rishi Kant of NGO Shakti Vahini, which works against trafficking, called the case "disturbing". The NGO is in talks with Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh governments to get the girls back home.
"Surveillance in Hatia, Ranchi and Bokaro stations must be beefed up as traffickers seem most active there," Rishi Kant said.
Police are not certain how the girls reached Delhi.
"Girls are brought to the NCR (National Capital Region) for four reasons, domestic work, sex trade, forced marriages and to work in hotels. While there has been no significant increase in these crimes, it is necessary to control placement agencies that routinely con girls into coming to Delhi for jobs. Girls often end up in the wrong hands, either as forced labour or in sex work," Ghaziabad DSP Singh said.