Manash Pratim Dutta

GUWAHATI, Feb 8: Lalita Devi, a trafficker who was arrested by Hatigaon police from Thali village in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan on January 30, ironically, was hereself a victim of human trafficking.

Sub-inspector of Hatigaon Police Station Shantanu Dutta, who led the search operation, said that Lalita was born and brought up at Palengbari village of the erstwhile Bongaigaon district.

One of the two women who were rescued by the police during the recent operation told The Assam Tribune that Lalita was trafficked to Rajasthan a few years ago and subsequently she herself got involved with the illegal trade.

“I had spent a number of days at Lalita’s residence. During that time I tried my best to get details about her. Then from one of her neighbours I came to know that Lalita was also sold by some of her close relatives to traffickers,” she said.

During their initial conversation over the phone, Lalita introduced herself as a resident of Sijubari area under Hatigaon Police Station of Guwahati and offered a job to the victim.

“Although Laita hailed from Assam, she never spoke in Assamese. She always used Bengali and Hindi in her conversation. Her husband was very old and used to spend most of his time in bed. Lalita was the sole breadwinner of her family which comprises altogether six children. She used to traffick both boys and girls from Assam. Girls were sold to brothels or as brides and boys were sold as slaves,” the victim told The Assam Tribune.

The victim further revealed that another two girls from Assam were still stuck in Mandabara village of Jhunjhunu district. One of the two is a Bengali girl from Dhubri district and the other a Bodo girl.

“From the villagers I came to know about the two girls. But I never met them. One of them was trafficked in the month of January and the other one a long time ago. Both of them were sold as brides,” she stated.

During the search operation, police seized the PAN cards of a Muslim girl and a Bodo girl from Assam, school certificates of two Muslim girls and a Bodo girl, Aadhaar card of a Bodo girl, bank passbook of a Bodo girl, flight ticket of a Muslim girl who was trafficked from the State recently and a number of passport-size photographs of girls from Assam along with a marriage certificate issued by a court in Assam.

Police said that Lalita was a very cunning woman and it was a very tough job to get further information about the traffickers’ gang from her.

“While in police custody, very often she turned violent and used to tear her own clothes. So questioning her was a very tough job. She was part of a long chain of traffickers and against every trafficked woman, she earned Rs 30,000,” said the officer-in-charge of Hatigaon Police Station Biren Chandra Deka.