On 27th September, Freedom Firm and Justice Ventures International (JVI) investigators rescued Priya, Salma and Swetha in a joint operation in Baruipur red light area in West Bengal. 2 brothel keepers and 1 customer were arrested during the rescue operation and a criminal complaint was filed against them.
Priya, Salma, and Swetha’s rescue comes after 7 months of preparation. After Ruchi’s rescue in February the team was keen on ensuring that Ruchi was safe and continued to investigate red-light areas in Kolkata and surrounding regions. A rescue operation was initiated in early August along with JVI and another independently by Freedom Firm in the second week of September. Both raid attempts failed as the police were not convinced that the girls were minors.
In September, JVI had leads that there were minors in prostitution in the red-light area in Baruipur. Freedom Firm and JVI investigators found Priya and Salma during initial investigations. They ensured that all surveillance gathered from the brothel was accurate and double-checked the brothel for the girls before the rescue operation. JVI’s interventions team worked closely with the West Bengal police and filed a strong case against the perpetrators. As a result, their bail pleas were denied. It was easier to file a case after this rescue as the team worked with the West Bengal police instead of the Anti Human Trafficking Unit.
JVI will continue to follow up and assist the local police in Kolkata to gather evidence against the accused, prepare a charge sheet, and submit it in court. Priya, Salma, and Swetha are in shelter homes in West Bengal. Freedom Firm’s social worker will visit them to provide counseling, care, and love to rebuild their lives.
*Names changed to protect identity