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Compensation reaches trafficking victim late

In August 2021, 27 survivors wrote to chief minister Mamata Banerjee urging her intervention in disbursal of compensation

Debraj Mitra | Published 13.10.22, 07:12 AM
Representational Image

Representational Image

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A trafficking survivor in North 24-Parganas was awarded a compensation of Rs 6.5 lakh in June 2021. The amount was finally credited to her bank account on September 28 this year. The woman, a resident of a village near Hasnabad, had visited the bank a couple of days ago.

She got to know about the money after updating her passbook. Metro has in the past reported on several survivors who have been awarded compensations in various orders since 2019 but were waiting to get the money. Calcutta High Court has been hearing a batch of similar petitions filed by trafficking survivors, some of whom had in the past written to the chief minister as well.


In August 2021, 27 trafficking survivors wrote to chief minister Mamata Banerjee urging her intervention in disbursal of compensation awarded to them by the state that was pending for alleged lack of funds. The survivors, from North and South 24-Parganas, had written the letter under the banner of three survivors’ collectives. The details of the cases — name of the survivors, date and amount of the orders — had been enclosed with the letter.

The apparent reason cited for the non-disbursal of payment was a lack of funds with the state legal services authority (SLSA), the custodians of the corpus created by the government for disbursal of funds under the victim compensation scheme.

“We have received Rs 8 crore from the state government. The money came a couple of months ago. The process of disbursement has started. We have already disbursed Rs 1.5 crore. The balance amount will also be disbursed in keeping with the list of candidates with us,” an official of the SLSA told this newspaper on Wednesday.

The woman who got Rs 6.5 lakh in her account lives with her parents and a younger sister. Her father is an agricultural labourer and she rolls bidis for a living. Rolling 600 bidis a day earns her Rs 120. “I want to buy a small piece of land and build a house. I also want to ensure higher education for my sister,” the woman, now 25, said. She was trafficked to Delhi in 2014 by a man who had promised to marry her.

“She was rescued the same year. She applied for victim compensation from the district legal services authority (DLSA) in February 2019 and the order came on June 8, 2021,” said Taniya Sultana, a social worker who has mentored the woman.  Many trafficking survivors do not file for compensation or pursue court cases against their tormentors because they perceive the legal procedure as too complex. Those who do are usually helped by NGOs.

“It takes a lot of courage to pursue the cases. But the delay in the disbursal of the money often erodes their trust in the judicial system,” said Sambhu Nanda, a rights activist who works with survivors in North24 Parganas.

Arijit Bhushan Bagchi, an advocate in Calcutta High Court who has represented several trafficking survivors, including the one who got the money, said the state should ideally pay the interest along with the principal amount of compensation.

“Compensation is the right of survivors. In case of a delay, the victims should get an interest, ideally calculated from the date of offence,” said Bagchi.

Last updated on 13.10.22, 07:12 AM

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