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    Shramjeevi Mahila Samity vs. State of NCT & others: Seeking remedy for trafficked, kidnapped, forced labour & bondage people from villages of West Bengal

    Date : 16/07/2010

    HRLN files a petition in the High court of Delhi on behalf of Shramjeevi Mahila Samity seeking an inquiry by the CBI in a shocking case of trafficking, kidnapping, forced labour and bondage of 298 women and children who were taken from different villages of West Bengal and brought to Delhi with the promise of providing work and wages. What is even more shocking is the collusion of the police with the placement agencies. This petition brings to light the inadequacies of a system, which uses delaying tactics; a reluctance to get involved and bad police practices.
    The petition seeks to highlight the collusion between placement agencies, agents (Middle men) and officials. Aimed at uniting these women and children with their families and their compensation it is also hoped that the action will result in regulation mechanisms at the placement agencies to put an end to exploitation.

    Trafficking of people for purposes of sexual exploitation under the guise of providing employment is a colossal problem in India. Women and children belonging to the lower economic sections of society have been most vulnerable.

    The petitioner Shramjeevi Mahila Samity is an organization working in west Bengal on trafficking issues. In May 2007, over 150 families from West Bengal approached Shramjeevi Mahila Samity with the complaint that their wives, sons and daughters had been taken to Delhi by agents promising to provide them with employment. They then fell out of contact and it was feared they were being exploited. Others had managed to get back to West Bengal and complained of overdue wages, forced work and sexual harassment.

    We at the Human Rights Law Network along with other NGOs, (Prayas, Bandhu Mukti Morcha and Nirmana), pursued the matter with the police at all levels but with little success. It is suspected that there is collusion between the police authorities and the placement agencies.

    The members of the petitioner’s organisation also met the Joint Labour Commissioner but again without success. The matter was put off and not dealt with any urgency.

    Simultaneously the petitioner moved to the concerned police station with a complaint under various sections of the Indian Penal Conduct, the Inter- State Migrant workers Act, The Child Labour Act, 1986, the Bonded Labour (System) Act2006, The Juvenile Justice Act 2000, The Minimum wages Act, 1948 and The Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1986.

    After a long delay the complaint was accepted by the police station and visits made to placement agency.

    Police raids rescued one minor victim, Kavita (name Changed). In her statement she revealed the exploitation she suffered and the wages, which were not paid to her. She was not allowed to keep in contact with any of her family.

    After rescuing the girl the petitioner sought to register the First Information Record (FIR), but delaying tactics resulted in the petitioner being passed from one police station to another with no result.

    By the time the Labour Department, the competent authority under The Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986, conducted their visit to the placement agencies they had been alerted and nothing substantial came out of the effort.

    Out of 298 women and children, the Police recorded statement of 42 minor boys and girls. This was done in the presence of their employers with the risk that they were exerting pressure on these children, calling into question the validity of the evidence.

    The petitioner seeks that:

    1. The CBI takes over the investigation of this matter.
    2. The 42 boys/ girls whose statement have been supplied to the petitioner by the Police, be produced for with by Police before Dr. Bharti Sharma, Chairperson, Child Welfare Committee for safe custody and counseling in order to verify the facts.
    3. Assistant Labour Commissioner, Shri Piyush Sharma be directed to produce the entire record seized from placement agency before the hon ble court including the electronic data seized.
    On 28.09.07 the court ordered for recording of statements of the minor boys and girls whose statements have been submitted in the office of Dr. Bharati Sharma, Chairperson, CWC, Nirmal Chhaya, within two weeks. The joint Labour Commissioner in the presence of chairperson, Child Welfare Committee, Nirmal Chhaya, shall record the statements.

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