Updated: Oct 9, 2019
On 17th May Freedom Firm and local police conducted a rescue operation in Sangli’s Gokul Nagar red light area. Bishti*, a 17-year-old girl from Bangladesh was rescued. She was trafficked to Mumbai and then to Sangli on the pretext of a job.
The brothel keeper was arrested and charged under anti-trafficking laws. “It was one of the toughest rescue operations,” said Ashwin Rathod, Freedom Firm’s Pune Director, “Our investigators had identified Bishti three weeks ago but her rescue was delayed as she was shifted by her handlers to three different brothels. We feared we would lose her.”
Ashwin Rathod, Freedom Firm’s Pune Director details the intense challenges of the rescue.
The Run Around
On 17th when we met the Superintendent of Police he directed us to the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit but the officer was unavailable. So, we met the Inspector of the local crime branch. He refused to take any action saying that the Superintendent had not given him any orders. He asked us to meet the Deputy Superintendent who again directed us to the Inspector of the local crime branch. Based on past experience with this police station we knew that the rescue was near impossible and the risk of tip-off was high.
At the last minute, the Anti Human Trafficking Unit got involved and without any further delay, the rescue team proceeded towards the location with uncertainty.
The post-rescue scene in the police station was unprecedented. The Inspector refused to register a case as criminals from the red-light area produced fake identity cards. When the police showed Bishti the ID card for verification, she said it was the first time she had ever seen it, said her name was different on the card and she didn’t know the Mumbai address mentioned on the card. She was scared, sick, broken and was imprisoned inside the brothel until the time of her rescue. The inspector was not convinced by her trafficking story and tried to threaten us as we were not ready to give up. It took us 6 hours to meet different police officers to get cooperation and another 6 hours to register a criminal case after the rescue.
We’ll keep fighting for her protection from premature release and fighting for justice.
*Name changed to protect identity