Busting an inter-state human trafficking network on Tuesday here, the West Bengal Police have recovered three girls who were missing from Kalimpong village in the Darjeeling hills since October 8.
A gang had smuggled them here to serve in the houses of non-resident Indians (NRI) flying home in winter. The five Darjeeling cops, including two woman constables and representatives of non-government organisation (NGO) Dooars Express, camped in the city for two days, tracing a call from one of the girls.
After taking the local police into confidence, they had on Monday scanned the industrial area, Sodal, Lamba Pind and others locations before meeting officers at police station 8. On Tuesday, NGO representative Raju Nepali manage to reach the girls on mobile phone and called them to Model House locality near a migrant-dominated part of the city. To not give the plan away, he conversed with them in the Darjeeling dialect.
The Darjeeling police in plain clothes laid ambush over there and recovered two of the girls who managed to get there. The third was recovered from the house of a Nepali woman, Gona, in the same locality. The Jalandhar police joined that operation based on the inputs of the girls rescued first. “Most of trafficked girls are sold into flesh trade,” said a police officer.
The rescued girls were produced before a member of the child welfare committee in Jalandhar and will be taken back to Darjeeling on Wednesday. “Their statement to the welfare committee member confirms that they are victims of human trafficking,” said Raju Nepali.
He said human trafficking was on the rise in the Darjeeling hills of West Bengal and girls from there were being smuggled into Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi. The minors saved on Tuesday bear no sign of sexual assault but they are yet to come out of shock to speak freely.
Nepali woman Gona wasn’t in the house when the teams recovered the third girl. The rest of the investigation will proceed in Darjeeling once the girls get back to their families.
Last year, 32 girls were reported missing from Darjeeling, and this year, the figure is expected to cross 100. “Most parents do not report their girls missing to avoid social stigma,” said Raju Nepali. Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri, he said, were worst-affected districts in West Bengal.