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Madhya Pradesh police rescue 5 girls sold to brothels, trafficking racket busted

BHOPAL: Madhya Pradesh police have busted a child trafficking racket in Gwalior district, where an average 48 per cent missing children remain untraced. Five young girls stolen from their parents and reportedly sold for brothels have been rescued so far. More girls are likely to be recovered soon, police said.

They also arrested key accused, identified as Laxmi, and three other middlemen. She used to move around bus stands and railway stations, targetting girls (aged nine months to 3 years) belonging to the deprived and poor sections. Each girl child was sold for an amount ranging between 20000 and 25000, sources said.

Laxmi, 50, was caught, through a CCTV footage, stealing a girl from near Gwalior Sai Mandir road. Initially, she tried to mislead police, but later she confessed to her crime, said sources. Three out of five girls were rescued from an area dominated by sex workers. Police said that Laxmi’s brother lived in that area and there she got in touch with the trafficking gang, said police. When contacted, Gwalior SP Dr Ashish said investigations were on.

In 2011, the state police had busted a similar racket rescuing around 57 girls who were kidnapped or procured from their parents’ immediately after birth and trafficked to a nomadic community in Mandsaur and Neemuch districts. The girls were allegedly fed hormones/steroids to boost their physical growth for an early initiation into prostitution. While around 30 girls were restored to their parents in the last six months, fate of the remaining ones still hangs in balance with police almost giving up hope about locating their origin.

Several parents from across the country had visited these two districts in search of their missing girls after this gang was busted six years ago. Police had booked 114 persons on charges of human trafficking, abduction, grooming, sexual exploitation and prostitution at nine police station area in Mandsaur district itself that year. Of them, 85 were arrested and sent to jail. Gang members had hired 49 advocates to fight a legal battle against the police besides reclaiming possession of children and for getting arrested ones on bail.

Police are hopeful that many more girls would be rescued in the Gwalior case. Different trafficking gangs were active in the region. In April 2016, Gwalior police had busted an alleged ‘baby farm’ that operated from a private hospital, selling and swapping ‘unwanted’ new-borns for Rs 1 lakh each. Babies born out of rape or illicit relationships were being delivered at this hospital and sold for adoption, police said. Two new-borns were rescued from the 30-bed Palash Hospital in Gwalior’s Murar area. Five people including the hospitals director, manager and parents who bought babies from this hospital have been booked under Sections 370 (buying or disposing of any person as slave), 371 (Habitual dealing in slaves) and 373 (buying minor for the purpose of prostitution). He said the accused had agents in the Chambal region who used to fetch girls carrying unwanted pregnancies. “When a girl or her parents approached them for termination of pregnancies, doctors at this hospital used to convince them assuring a safe and secret delivery. Once baby is delivered and mother gets discharged, hospital authorities start hunting for gullible couples who could buy them,” said an investigating officer.

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