Abducted at seven, sold at 14, Mumbai police join bar dancer's quest to locate parents
Working the shift in 11 dance bars, countless clients and trips to Dubai later, 24-year-old approaches court to help find her parents
At the age of seven, she was abducted from her home and in the years since, moved to New Delhi, Mumbai and Dubai only to be forced into a life of child labour and subsequently, commercial sex work. At 24, this bar dancer might finally get the chance to be reunited with her family, thanks to the police and judiciary, who have been helping her look for her parents for over three years.
Narrating her roller-coaster of a life to the police, the bar dancer recounted how her ordeal began when she was abducted from her village. "I must have been around seven years old when a person named Radhe abducted me from my home. He took me to Goyla village in New Delhi, where I was introduced to one Rubi Thakur. I was then handed over to a group, including Rubi, who brought me to Mumbai."
The woman was forced to work at over 11 dance bars in Mumbai. Representational Image
Worked as a maid
"In Mumbai, I was forced to work as a maid in Rubi's house. I lived with nine other girls who worked at dance bars, and Rubi's daughter, who is an MBA now. Back then, every time I saw her leaving for school, I felt like going too. I expressed my desire to Rubi, but as soon as she heard it, she beat me up brutally and asked me to focus on household chores instead. I tried requesting a couple of more times but she responded in a similar way. One day, I gave up trying to persuade her."
She further alleged, "After almost five years of torment while working as a maid, as I turned 14, Rubi, the girls and I shifted to a flat in Lokhandwala. There, I was asked to learn dancing, even though I was never interested in it. I protested, but there was no end to the thrashing. One day in 2005, I was asked to wear clean clothes and do make-up. Rubi then took me to a dance bar in Santacruz. This was the first dance bar I'd ever seen. The loud music disturbed me and made me very uncomfortable."
"When I refused to go to the bar the next day, Rubi beat me up and refused to give me food. Following that, was forced to learn dancing and speaking to customers inside the bar. I'd realised there was no way out, so I began working without any complaints. Once I got used to the atmosphere, I was shifted to a bar in Vile Parle, where I worked for almost eight months," she added.
Another shocker soon came her way. "One day, Rubi asked me to get ready to go with a customer for the night. I refused, but she threatened me and I was forced to go. When I reached the hotel room with the customer, I told him I do not want to get physical with him and requested him to drop me home. He got angry and called up Rubi, demanding his money back. He handed over the phone to me and I was threatened of dire consequences if I failed to entertain him," she said. Thus began the chain of sending her from one such customer to another. "I worked in over 11 dance bars in Mumbai," she said.
In 2009, she took the woman to Agra, forged documents to show her as the woman's mother and packed her off to Dubai for some time. Rubi sent her again in 2011. "When I came back to Mumbai," said the woman, "I began working at a dance bar in Malad where I befriended a man against Rubi's wishes. I narrated my ordeal to him after which he got ready to help me. In November 2014, I ran away from Rubi's house. I was not the first to escape, two more girls had left before me."
On September 13, 2016, she finally approached cops and filed an FIR against Rubi for forcing her into prostitution. The very next day, they arrested four people in the case.
Cops also went to Agra to find out the truth behind the forged documents, which were eventually confirmed to be fake, and also did a DNA test of at least 14 people to identify the woman's relatives, but none of the samples matched.
The case also moved court, and on April 6, 2018, the court directed cops to find her family. Sections from POCSO Act have also been added to the FIR. Cops then went to Agra and Delhi to look for her parents but returned empty-handed. They also contacted CID and checked over 1,000 records of missing persons but nothing came of it.
Cops also went all the way to Nagpur after the woman shared a memory she had with her father, but found nothing there either. In February this year, the case was transferred to Mumbai crime branch's crimes against women cell. Currently, the investigation into the case is being monitored by a police officer of the additional director general rank.
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