An NGO working with trafficking victims claimed on Wednesday that over the last two or three years it has come across a new trend wherein the families of the victims are being harassed, grilled and allegedly implicated in false cases by the police in collusion with the accused or politicians known to them.
In fact, Goranbose Grambikash Kendra, the NGO, has documents pertaining to 12 such cases, detected in four blocks of the Sunderbans, to support its allegation.
It is now planning to approach the administration or even the high court for justice.
Take the case of a minor girl from Ramchandrakhali in Basanti who was allegedly trafficked by locals in 2007 for example.
She was sold, then rescued by the police and following the intervention of this NGO, the accused (the victim’s neighbours) were arrested.
But the ordeal of the victim or that of her family has only just begun.
For, soon after the accused were out on bail, her parents were reportedly implicated in a false case and are still being threatened by the accused and the police.
Meanwhile, the trial in the case that was lodged against the accused continues in Alipore court.
Similarly, another girl was trafficked from Bahirbena in Canning in South 24-Parganas in 2011, sold, and rescued subsequently.
“We have carefully documented 12 such cases and will move top police officials and later the high court for justice. The filing of a false case against the victim’s family is a counter attack to deter them and the girl, who are witnesses in the case against the accused, from appearing in court. Since the victims are usually poor and from weaker sections of society, they are afraid of the police and the courts,” said Nihar Raptan, the secretary of the NGO.
He added that more often than not, the victim or her family succumbed under pressure.
Hence, the conviction rate in trafficking cases is very low.
Amina Khatun, a social worker dealing with trafficking cases and attached to this NGO, said that in her experience, the police and local politicians often help the accused — sometimes by urging the victims’ families to settle the matter by accepting some money or by pressuring them to withdraw the case.
She added, “I have seen so many such cases. An 18-year-old girl from Canning is a case in point. After her rescue and the arrest of the accused, the culprits tried to settle the case through a local TMC leader. A sum of Rs. 80,000 was offered, which the family refused. Next day they found all the fish in their pond were dead — they had been poisoned. The culprits also threatened to implicate the family in a false case.”
When contacted, South 24-Parganas superintendent of police Praveen Tripathi, however, dismissed the allegation that the victims’ families have been implicated in false cases.
“I am not aware of any such cases. But if any case is brought to my notice, it will be investigated,” he said.