For the past three months, the hapless parents of a 14-year-old girl have been at their wits' end, searching in vain for their missing daughter. Her recovery yesterday put an end to their misery, but has opened up a can of worms, with cops stumbling upon a child labour racket flourishing in Dharavi.
In the police net: Ajmerunissa Khan, who kidnapped the teenager
three months ago and sold her to a jewellery-manufacturing unit, in
police custody yesterday. PIC/SAMIULLAH KHAN
Besides rescuing the girl, Malwani cops arrested a female member of a gang that allegedly kidnaps children below the age of 14 and supplies them to small-scale units to work as labourers. Cops suspect that the gang also sells girls into prostitution.
According to police, the accused, identified as Ajmerunissa Khan, had kidnapped the 14-year-old girl and forced her to work for a jewellery-manufacturing unit in Dharavi. The girl' s parents had filed a missing person's complaint with the police three months ago. About three days ago, Malwani locals spotted the girl entering Ajmerunissa's house. They informed the girl's parents, who in turn filed kidnapping charges against the woman. Cops then started keeping track of Ajmerunissa's phone records, through which they learnt that the lost girl had been sent to Dharavi.
Cops added that the gang members would often target adolescent girls who were unhappy in their homes, lure them with the promise of financial independence and the good life, and then sell them. S Shaikh, senior police inspector of the Malwani police station, said that Ajmerunissa and her husband had influenced the girl to stay with a gang member in Dharavi.
"We are now tracing the woman identified as Kavita, with whom the girl stayed. The rest of the gang members are Rihana, Tayyeba, Geeta and Ajmerunissa's husband Ashfaq," said Shaikh. Cops have arrested Ajmerunissa on charges of kidnapping, and booked the jewellery unit's owner for employing child labourers. The police have sent the girl to the Nagpada hospital for medical examination, as they suspect that she was raped.