17 year old Komala rescued in Agra, UP
On December 7th when our team was in Meerut, UP, following up with a survivor, we got a lead about a minor girl who was being forced into prostitution in a brothel in Agra, UP.
Our team made the four and a half hour journey and reached Agra early on the morning of the 8th. We met with the police and spoke briefly. We were happy when they said they would initiate a raid as soon as we verified the lead.
On the morning of the 9th, after we verified the lead and were getting ready for the police, we were informed that the police team was not available as they were engaged in another urgent matter. The rescue was pushed to the next day.
On the morning of the 10th, we met the police officer at the police station. Though we wanted the police team to initiate the raid right away, we had to wait for a few hours as they were engaged in another matter.
At about 12:57 pm, the police team called the anti human trafficking unit, AHTU. After planning and strategizing, the police team, AHTU and our team were at the victim’s location at 2:32 pm.
At 3:00 pm the police raided the brothel and Komala, the victim that we were tracking, was rescued. The police arrested the brothel keeper who kept claiming to be Komala’s mother. Komala was not cooperative and kept insisting she was a major (if the police accepted her being a major, then they would have released her.) After a lot of questioning, Komala reluctantly shared information about herself which the police verified and were able to prove that she was 17 years old.
Komala, the brothel keeper, and the police and our teams proceeded to the police station. A First Information Report, FIR, was filed and the brothel keeper was booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code; Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences. Komala was placed in a one stop centre, a temporary shelter for young girls and women in distress, and the brothel keeper was kept in police custody.
The next morning, the police were back at the brothel. They collected additional evidence from the brothel as well as started looking for other minor girls who were being forced into prostitution. The brothels in that area were on high alert since the previous day’s raid so the police were not able to find any minors.
When we visited Komala at the one stop centre, Komala kept changing her statements and our team had to keep reassuring her that she was safe. Later that evening, we accompanied Komala for her medical tests and then took her back to the one stop centre.
The next day we met our advocate and gave him a copy of the recently filed FIR. After that we visited the Child Welfare Committee, CWC, and told them about Komala. After leaving the CWC office we got a phone call from the Assistant Police Commissioner who asked us to meet him. When we met him 30 minutes later, he reassured us that he would be following up on this case and would arrest everyone involved in Komala’s exploitation.
On December 13th we accompanied Komala to the sessions court in Agra where her 164 statement (a voluntary statement in which the victim shares her experience at the brothel and names of the accused) was recorded.