Ahmedabad, April 22: Surat Police apprehended three persons suspected to be sex traffickers and rescued a Bangladeshi girl on April 17 from Kamrej town in Surat District.


Those arrested were identified as Mijanur alias Shariful Shaikh (36), his wife Ajmira Khatun (32) and Murtaza Shaikh (31) who is allegedly the agent. All three are Bangladeshi nations who have been residing in South Gujarat since many years.


The Bangladeshi girl who was first suspected to be a minor was found to be 18-year-old after a medical test was done, said Surat Crime Branch Inspector M K Gurjar who is investigating the case. Incidentally, this is the third case of a Bangladeshi girl who has been rescued after being trafficked with the purpose of forcing them into commercial sex work in South Gujarat.


In September 2020 a minor girl was rescued in Surat on a tip-off after the 15 –year-old girl was able to call her mother in Bangladesh from the mobile of one of the traffickers. She was rescued by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Traffickers brought her to Kolkata, then moved her to Mumbai, Bangalore and finally to Surat from where she was rescued after three years.


Another girl was rescued in March 2021 from Valsad who was also forced into sex work. However, Gujarat Police is yet to establish a link between these cases though all cases involve Bangladeshi traffickers living illegally in South Gujarat cities of Surat, Valsad, Vapi and Ankleshwar. Also, all the victims are Bangladeshi girls.


In the recent case in Surat, the couple Mijanur and Ajmira have been residing in Kolwad village of Surat district. The accused, Mijanur and Ajmira decided to traffic a girl from Bangladesh to push her into sex work and earn a living through her so they approached Ankleshwar resident Murtuza.  All of them went to get the girl by paying Rs 15,000 to her family there. They also paid Rs 4000 at the border to an agent who helped them cross over to India along with the girl.


Inspector Gurjar said he suspected that money was used to entice the family to send their daughter here as she comes from a large family of eight siblings and parents and hardly any income. However, the matter is still being investigated. The accused Mijanur has maintained that he married the girl and brought her to Surat but they did not travel on legal documents and neither has he got any marriage certificates, said the Surat crime branch police.


In this case, police said that the traffickers were not able to put her into sex work since they arrived on April 16 but the police had kept a watch over them based on a tip-off so they were apprehended before they could put their plan into action.


The girl was first sent to the children’s home initially before a medical examination showed that she was over 18-year-old. Further investigations in this case are continuing to ascertain if any other girls were trafficked by these three accused.


In another case, a girl who was trafficked to Vapi from Bangladesh and rescued from Valsad Civil Hospital where she was found along with the woman who had trafficked her. Some people suspected some foul play when they saw the girl along with the woman Ruma Ansari in the orthopedic ward and called up the Child Welfare Commission Chairperson Sonal Solanki Shah, who came and rescued the girl from the hospital on March 26 and took her to the children’s home.


The girl allegedly told the CWC chairperson that there were two other minor girls also who were also in Vapi but they had come to Valsad Civil Hospital for some treatment for Ruma Ansari. In the interrogation it was revealed that Ruma Ansari along with her husband Ismail Ansari had trafficked many girls from Bangladesh and sold some of them in a brothel in Mumbai while three of them, all minors were brought to Vapi.


Sonal Solanki told Life News that the girl she rescued looked around 13-14 years old so she was sent to the children’s home where they were counseling her. However, when Valsad Police took up the case, after much delay since the CWC apparently took some time to give police access to the girl, a medical test was done and the girl was found to be 18 year old therefore, she was sent to Nari Grah and her case is being treated as an adult who was trafficked. While Ruma Ansari is in police custody, Ismail Ansari is no yet apprehended and police suspect him to be in Bangladesh, according to Valsad SP Rajdeepsinh Zala.


Valsad police is also on the lookout for the other two girls, who are allegedly minors. Whether there is any link in all these cases or whether each of the accused are acting independent of each other will be revealed in further investigations but all the accused are Bangladeshis as are all the victims.


This is a case of cross border sex trafficking which is already a huge problem as an estimated 50,000 girls are trafficked each year from Bangladesh chiefly to force them into commercial sex work while touts on both India and Bangladesh have been operating like a well-oiled machinery. A few arrest and a few girls rescued is not enough to make a dent in this cross border racket where so much money is involved. There is an urgent need to mount an investigation in both India and Bangladesh jointly to put a stop to this human trafficking racket.