A trafficker described as “notorious” by a police officer who played a key role in the investigation was sentenced to eight years in jail by a Baruipur court on Friday.
Meena Singh had allegedly trafficked several women from South 24-Parganas to Agra, where she owned a brothel.
The conviction came in a case lodged at Kultali police station in 2017.
“The conviction came at the end of a long legal battle. The police have been thorough with the probe. They faced obstacles but pursued the case with vigour. The convict used to be the leader of a large trafficking racket,” said Deb Ranjan Banerjee, special public prosecutor in six cases against Singh.
“Singh worked with a network of people. The preferred route for trafficking the women was Sealdah-Delhi Agra. One of the survivors was lured with the promise of marriage, another with a job. They would be given spiked food or drink. On reaching Agra, they would be forced into prostitution,” said Banerjee.
Arijit Sinha, who was the superintendent of Baruipur police district when the case was lodged, was instrumental in taking the probe ahead, said Banerjee and rights activists associated with the case.
“She (Singh) is a notorious interstate trafficker, a very big player. It was not easy to track her,” said Sinha, who is the superintendent of Jhargram now. A rights activist said the conviction was significant because the kingpins usually escape police radar.
“The ground-level associates get arrested more often. The big fish go scot-free... Even in these cases, Singh tried to strike fear in the minds of the survivors. Sometimes, during court productions, she would make eye contact with a survivor to threaten her. Her associates would also try different tactics,” said Rishi Kant of Shakti Vahini, the NGO that assisted the police and the survivors.