trafficking racket

Assam, Feb 2: Police in Hojai district of central Assam have busted an interstate trafficking racket and rescued 11 women, including four minors. Four persons, including three women, have been arrested.

According to the police, the women, from different districts in upper Assam, had been lured with the promise of jobs and were about to be trafficked outside the state when they were rescued.

“I got a call on Monday evening informing me that several women were being kept in two houses in Murajhar. Based on the information, we conducted a raid. But by the time we reached the spot, the traffickers had taken the women to another location,” said Dipti Mali, deputy superintendent of police, Hojai.

“We found several bags full of clothes in the two houses. On questioning, the two women in the house said that the women had been taken to the paddy fields. We conducted a search in the dark for several hours and were able to rescue 11 women,” she added.

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Police have arrested one Abida Begum (25), who is reportedly the mastermind of the trafficking racket, and the two women in whose houses the rescued women were kept. One person, who was coordinating the trafficking, has also been arrested and search is on to nab another accused who fled the scene.

“Local residents say Abida has been involved in trafficking women for quite some time now. She reportedly used to promise the women jobs outside the state, and after some time these women used to disappear without any trace,” said Mali.

“Detailed interrogation of the accused will reveal where they used to traffic the women and what happened to them. Most of the women rescued on Monday night belong to the tea tribe community and are from Tinsukia and Margherita in upper Assam,” she added.

Police have registered a case against the accused and are conducting further investigation to unearth the total number of women trafficked to date.

According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures for 2019, the rate of human trafficking in Assam per 100,000 population, was 0.6, which is three times the national rate of 0.2.

The state accounted for 8.9% of the total human trafficking cases reported in India in 2019, which is the third-highest after Maharashtra (12.5%) and Andhra Pradesh (10.8%). Maharashtra recorded 282 cases of human trafficking in 2019, followed by Andhra Pradesh (245) and Assam (201).