Pune: Bangladeshis rescued from sex trade languishing in crammed shelter home

Even as the Pune police and activists are doing their best to repatriate them, officials in their home country do not seem overly concerned about speeding up the process, leading to overcrowding at the Hadapsar shelter

Babus in Bangladesh seem to care little for their countrywomen liberated from the sex trade by the city police during their raids on human trafficking dens.

Hard-pressed: The Rescue Foundation shelter home at Mohammadwadi Road. Pic/Mohan Patil 

The girls are languishing at a shelter home in Hadapsar because “officials from their own country are not sensitive and serious in their efforts to take them back”, cops say.

Crammed full: The shelter home at Mohammadwadi Road in Hadapsar. Pic/Mohan Patil

The Rescue Foundation shelter home located on Mohammadwadi Road in Hadapsar currently houses 78 girls, even though its capacity is for 40. Of these, 53 are Bangladeshi nationals. A visit to the centre revealed the distressful situation, where rooms were crammed full.

The eponymous NGO that runs the home and the Pune police have repeatedly asked for video conferencing between Indian officials and the Bangladesh High Commission to expedite the process of issuing repatriation orders and travel permits for the rescued girls, but these efforts have failed due to apathy on their part, police say.

Advocate Shiny V Padiyara, superintendent of Rescue Foundation, which is recognised by the Government of Maharashtra, said, “Girls, especially Bangladesh nationals, when rescued by Pune police from human trafficking are kept at our shelter home. Due to delay in the processing of repatriation orders, some girls are staying at the shelter home for more than two years.”

“Last year we had a very good officer in the Bangladesh High Commission who had a sensitive and serious approach. He had visited our facility and sped up the process of issuing travel permits and repatriation. But since the position was taken over by someone else, the process began taking up to one and a half years,” Shiny said.

“We had a meeting with police and Home Ministry officials last week. We have stressed on starting video conferencing between Indian and Bangladesh High Commission officials. We have the set-up ready here. However, the Bangladeshi officials have not made arrangements from their side. If this facility starts, it would bring down the bureaucratic delays,” Shiny added.

Assistant Police Inspector (Social Security Cell) Ashwini Jagtap said, “Earlier many girls from the southern states were found to be lured into prostitution in Pune. This trend changed and Nepali girls were seen in large numbers. Nowadays, we see Bengali and Bangladeshi girls in huge numbers in the city. Earlier these girls were found restricted to red-light areas but now they are found in various parts of the city. Officials from their own country are not serious in their efforts to take them back.”

Another senior official from the Crime Branch, on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the remand or shelter homes are running beyond capacity. “After we rescue the girls, they are required to be produced in court. After the court procedure is over, we have to make arrangements to keep them at a safe place. If shelter homes are running full, where do we keep them? If we insist on including these girls in the existing shelter homes, then there is a possibility of creating unsafe conditions for the rescued girls,” said the officer.

40 Accommodation capacity of shelter home
78 Number of women it currently houses

Recent addition

The SS Cell of Pune police on Wednesday had rescued seven girls including three Bangladeshi girls. They have been sent to the Rescue Foundation shelter home and are now awaiting further court orders.

Way back home
. After police rescue the girls and court proceedings are over, Rescue Foundation NGO and CWC officials conduct home verification of these girls
2. The verification report is submitted to the court
3. Police give their no-objection certificate
4. Repatriation orders and travel permits from Bangladesh High Commission are obtained
5. The girls are sent back to Bangladesh with full police protection

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