Four persons have been sent to 20 years in jail for trafficking a girl, a quantum of punishment that lawyers and police officers handling such cases said was “rare”.
Two others were given 10-year terms each.
A Pocso (Protection of Children from SexualOffences) court in Barasat convicted the accused on July 22 and the sentencing happened on Thursday.
The girl was made to travel through multiple states.
The case also stands out because of coordination between police and different interstate agencies, the lack of which often leads to similar cases dragging on for years.
The survivor, 22 years old now, was granted a compensation of ₹4 lakh.
“A jail term of 20 years is rare in trafficking cases. The investigating officer did a sound job,” said Shyamal Kanti Dutta, additional district public prosecutor of North 24-Parganas.
“Trafficking and sexual abuse of children is a burning question in the country. The victim and the society are seeking justice,” the lawyer said at the hearing, seeking“exemplary punishment that would act as a deterrent.”
The girl was befriended by a young man from Bihar, said officers of the anti-human trafficking unit of the state CID.
The girl left home on January 7, apparently in the guise of going to school and met the man. She was taken to the bus stand at Babughat. The youth left her there, saying he would come back shortly but never did.
She was rescued after some months from Kashipur railway station in Uttarakhand. Cops said a team of sleuths from the anti-human trafficking unit rescued her. But the public prosecutor said she was found by her mother.
The girl managed to contact her mother over the phone. The call led to her rescue. But between January 7 and the time of her rescue, she was made to travel through Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
She was allegedly sold more than once and allegedly raped several times at multiple places. She was also married off to a much older man, cops said.
“The girl was highly traumatised when we found her. She was taken to a home in Kolkata where she went through counselling sessions. She started opening up after over a month,” said a CID officer.
The girl’s feedback led cops to the accused. Two were arrested from Bijnore, Uttar Pradesh, three from Kashipur, Uttarakhand, and one — the youth who befriended her —from Saharsa, Bihar.
The charge sheet was filed within 90 days. The accused were charged with several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 370A (trafficking of minor for sexual exploitation), 372 (selling a minor for prostitution), and 376 (rape), and sections of the Pocso act. The trial began in late 2015.
Kaushik Gupta, an advocate in Calcutta High Court who has appeared for many survivors, said: “When a girl is trafficked to several states, the investigating officer has to travel to all the places to establish the chain of circumstances. That is often not done...”