In early December, our team received a lead about two minor girls being exploited in a brothel in Barshi, Maharashtra. On December 12th, we presented the evidence to the Superintendent of Police, and requested him to initiate a raid with the Anti Human Trafficking Unit (AHTU). He connected us with some police personnel and the AHTU in Barshi, and we proceeded to Barshi to plan the raid together.
When one of the officers contacted a deputy from another police station for assistance, we grew concerned about the number of police involved due to previous experiences where leaked information led to failed rescue operations.
With the entire team present in Barshi, we discussed rescue strategies. Shortly afterwards, we received information that the brothel was shutting down, and by the time we arrived, many victims had escaped and the two minors we were tracking were not present.
We found eight other victims at the brothel: six girls from Rajasthan, and two minors, Rati aged 17, and Shazia, who appeared to be between 17-19 years old, from West Bengal.
At the police station, instead of keeping the victims secluded, the police allowed for a group of men to interact with the girls. These men talked with and offered the girls cell phones to make calls. We complained to the police and they asked the men to leave.
We learned that information about the raid was leaked to the brothel earlier that day. A few of the victims also disclosed two names of people who had tricked and forced them into prostitution: Riya, a woman who posed as an agent, and Binoy, her male accomplice. The police chose not to record these two names in the First Information Report (FIR), and instead accused the victims of lying, and insisted that these two individuals did not exist.
On December 13th, at 1:38 a.m. the police completed the FIR. When our team reviewed the report we discovered that the police only included Rati and Shazia’s names, but left out the other six victims from Rajasthan. The police refused to make any changes.
Our team accompanied the girls to their medical tests, and after waiting for over 90 minutes, we were directed to the doctor’s residence where she converted a portion of her home into a makeshift hospital. After the survivors received their medical exams, they were placed in a shelter home in Barshi, where they remain safe.