The police finally managed to nab wanted child traffickers Panna Lal Mahto and his wife Sunita Devi on Sunday. The investigators have managed to glean from them the details of more than 10,000 girls the duo had trafficked.
The arrests were made by the joint team of Delhi and Jharkhand Police along with two NGOs — Shakti Vahini and Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan.
“They were involved in trafficking children from Jharkhand to employ them as domestic helps in Delhi and NCR through their placement agencies. A non-bailable warrant had been issued for them in Jharkhand,” said RS Yadav, Joint CP (crime).
Jharkhand Police’s search for Mahto began almost a month ago when former state minister Yogendra Sao was arrested from his house in a case of Arms Act. Mahto also allegedly worked as a link between the Left-wing extremists in Jharkhand and Delhi placement agencies.
A Jharkhand police team had been in Delhi for over a month and had become involved with the Delhi Police and the two NGOs to raid several of Mahto’s hideouts in Shakurpur, sources said. Earlier, the agencies had managed to arrest his sister-in-law Gayatri for running a placement agency in Shakurpur and being involved in trafficking girls from Jharkhand.
Since then, several raids have been conducted at their possible hide-outs and the police managed to nab them from Shakurpur on Sunday. The two had come there to collect their belongings and had planned on fleeing.
Mahto, 31, and his wife Sunita, 37, have been sent to judicial custody and will be taken to Jharkhand on Monday. “He was running several sub-units to expand his human trafficking business in Delhi. His connections with Maoists are also being probed by Jharkhand Police,” Yadav added.
Mahto had earlier been arrested by Jharkhand Police in 2006 for human trafficking and had been in jail for around five months. He has huge properties in Delhi, Ranchi and Khunti (Jharkhand), all acquired through his illegal human trafficking business.