Eight girls and one boy from Bengal, all minors and alleged trafficking victims, were rescued from Bihar on Sunday night.
The minors were part of different musical troupes in Bettiah, West Champaran district, an officer of Bihar police said. A minor girl from Haryana was also rescued, the officer said.
The search for one 13-year-old girl from South 24-Parganas district, allegedly trafficked last year, led to multiple raids that led to the rescue. Police conducted the raids on the behest of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
Two traffickers, one the owner of an “orchestra”, have been arrested, the police said. The two have been identified as Puja Das, from North 24-Parganas in Bengal, and Ram Babu Singh, a local resident and the owner of an orchestra that performed at social occasions.
According to a complaint filed by the girl’s father, who is “blind and begs on local trains” for a living, Das had approached him with a job offer for his girl — that of a domestic help with a “reputable” family in Bihar. Das promised a good salary and said the girl would be able to visit home once in a while.
The anti-human trafficking unit of Bihar police and members of multiple NGOs and Child Welfare Commission were part of the late-night rescue operations. The cell phone tower locations led the team to multiple locations.
“The girl and others like her were forced to dance to sleazy numbers at social gatherings. They were also exploited sexually,” said Virender Kumar of Mission Mukti Foundation, a Delhi-based NGO. Kumar was part of the rescue operations.
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are the destinations for a number of girls trafficked from Bengal. Most of them are forced to join dance troupes. Some of the troupes also hire minor boys, said child rights activists.
All the children have been moved to a shelter home in Bihar. A joint team of CID West Bengal and local police is set to leave for Bihar soon.