Concerned over the rising cases of trafficking, the ministry for home affairs (MHA) has asked Delhi Police to create a group on the messaging application WhatsApp and use it to coordinate with police of other states.
Delhi is considered to be a favourite spot for traffickers. Many cases of minors being trafficked from Jharkhand and West Bengal to work here as domestic help have been reported.
The usual process of coordination through phone takes time. A WhatsApp group will provide a platform to every state police to share information about missing children and rescue operations.
“Senior MHA officials emphasised the fact that inter-state rescue operations and inter-state coordination needed to be improved. Members of anti-human trafficking units (AHTUs) across the country have been asked to come on a single platform to fast-track investigation of trafficking cases,” said a senior Delhi Police official, requesting anonymity.
NGOs fighting trafficking welcomed the move but said that this too needed to be reviewed carefully. “We have been rescuing victims of trafficking for a long time and have witnessed lack of coordination almost each time. For instance, if a girl of West Bengal is rescued from Delhi, the West Bengal police should be immediately informed to find out if any case was registered there.
This will increase accountability of other state police forces, who often ignore complaints of missing children. But this needs to be monitored,” said Rishi Kant, an activist with Shakti Vahini NGO.
In a meeting held on June 20, the Union Home Secretary had said that hundred more AHTUs would be set up across the country during this financial year, taking the total number to 325.
Since their establishment in 2011, AHTUs have conducted more than 4,000 rescue operations, rescuing 13,742 victims and arresting 7,087 traffickers.
Delhi has 12 AHTUs, 11 in each district and one in the crime branch.
Delhi Police officials have also enrolled themselves in a course in anti-human trafficking designed by IGNOU. The purpose of the course is to accelerate the process of sensitisation, awareness and training of law enforcement officials and other stake-holders like prosecutors, government departments and NGOs.
In 2012, a total of 3,734 child labourers were rescued from Delhi of which 2,357 were below the age of 14 years.