17-year old Sani rescued from a guesthouse in Mayapur, West Bengal
We first heard of Sani when we were investigating Mayapur in Nadia District, West Bengal, in August. Sani was forced to service customers at a low budget and dingy guest house in Mayapur. A few days later, she vanished from the area. We continued to look for her. When she resurfaced a few days later, we went to meet the police.
September 6 - We provided the Superintendent of Police (SP) with Sani’s details. Our team was happy with the SP’s positive response; the police would provide whatever support the team needed to rescue Sani.
September 9 - Once again we met the SP at her office along with key members of the crime branch and other police personnel.
September 10 - We received a call from the inspector in charge of the police station. He said Freedom Firm could plan the rescue operation on September 13th.
11:30 am – We reached the police station. We were directed to the police personnel who would be heading the operation. After planning a detailed rescue operation we left with the police to rescue Sani.
We stopped near the location. We were joined by a few more police personnel from another police station. We awaited confirmation that Sani was at the guesthouse. A few minutes later, Chief Inspector from another police station joined the team.
2:30 pm – We received confirmation that Sani was at the guest house.
2:50 pm- We raided the brothel.We found Sani in one room with a customer and another victim (22 years) in another room with a customer. The police arrested the guest house manager and another staff member.
4:45pm – The police completed the initial report of the rescue operation.
5:30 pm – The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Dy SP, arrived at the guest house. After talking to the inspector in charge and meeting the rescued victims, the Dy SP left.
6:30pm - The police team went with our team to the closest police station. Complaints and evidence were filed, the two accused were booked, Sani underwent a general medical check up, and the other rescued victim, a major, was released by the police. The police directed us to another police station, a 45 minute drive to the other side of the Hooghly river.
11:00 pm - We reached the police station and encountered our first obstacle. The circle inspector refused to send Sani, a minor, to a shelter home, which is standard protocol with any minor rescued. He started finding fault with the seizure list (evidence collected at the crime scene). For more than 5 hours, there was a lot of back and forth between him, our team and the police team who accompanied us on the raid. Even though it was 4 am in the morning, we quickly called the Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee at Nadia District to apprise her of the situation. She called the Circle Inspector and directed him to send Sani to a shelter home immediately. He complied.
6: 00 am - We accompanied Sani and the police to the shelter home. Our social workers spent some time with Sani. They spent time comforting her and collected a few practical details about her past from her.
7am – We bid farewell to Sani and left.