Updated: Jul 28
On July 6th We saw Saniya while we were investigating a private brothel in Ahmednagar. She looked anywhere between 14-16 years old. The next morning we came back to the brothel and after collecting sufficient evidence, we proceeded to the police station and presented the information to the Additional Superintendent of Police in Ahmednagar. He directed us to the local police and the Anti-Human Trafficking Unit, AHTU. The inspector we had wanted to meet was not in the office and was in the middle of another investigation. When we called him up, he shared that he would return to the station only at 5 pm that evening as he was 90 km away from Ahmednagar. While we were waiting for him, another AHTU officer came to the station. We told him about Saniya. Since it was a PITA ( Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act) raid, he got all the papers and letters ready and called two government staff to stand in as panch witnesses.
At 5:30 pm the inspector returned from the field and we presented all the evidence we had about Saniya. Though the police were ready to conduct the raid right away, another issue occurred and the rescue had to be postponed.
On July 13th, once again we got intel that Saniya was at the brothel. Not wanting to lose her we shared an update with the police and we started planning a raid.
On July 14th at approximately 4:30 pm, the police along with our team raided the brothel. We found Saniya right away. The police made seven arrests - the house owner, three customers, a pimp, and two women who were running the brothel. The main culprit, the pimp, was absconding. Evidence was bagged, the panch (third party witnesses) recorded their statements from the location, and the police wrote their reports, Saniya and our team, the police, and the accused all proceeded to the police station.
The police started to write the First Information Report (a document that is similar to a charge sheet, and necessary for a case to go forward in court). We spoke to Saniya and collected a few details from her. She was from Pune and she had been rescued in February 2022 from a brothel in Karad, Maharashtra. So this was the second time she was being rescued from prostitution.
Around midnight of July 15, the police completed the First Information Report. We wanted to accompany Saniya to the hospital for her medicals but the female police constable said it was not necessary. This normally would have been okay, except that we had noticed her being impatient and harsh with Saniya. We were not confident in the quality of follow-up Saniya would receive without our presence, so we made a quick call to the officer from the AHTU. With his permission, we accompanied Saniya to the hospital and after that to a shelter home.
Later that morning, we met the Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee and shared about Freedom Firm and Saniya’s rescue and that she had been re-trafficked. Later we came to the police station and met and thanked all the officers who were involved in Saniya’s rescue. We then went to the Sessions Court in Ahmednagar where we saw Saniya with a police escort. At 2 pm Saniya’s case was heard in court. Our lawyer requested that we be allowed to conduct a Home Investigation; visit Saniya’s home, speak to her parents and siblings, find out if they are responsible for her being re-trafficked, visit her school to find any records, and speak to neighbors (information necessary to determine if she can be released home or would be safer in a shelter home). Our lawyer also requested that Saniya be sent to a private shelter home in Pune. 15 yr old Saniya
Both requests were granted.
Saniya is currently safe at a shelter home in Pune and the seven accused are still in police custody. For Saniya, the restoration process has begun and for the accused hopefully, their trial will begin soon. Our home investigation will be underway and should uncover more about how she was trafficked in the past and protect her from it ever happening again.