New Delhi: With human trafficking across the India-Bangladesh borders an area of major concern for authorities on both the sides, the BSF has caught 915 women while they were illegally crossing the borders between the two countries till mid-August this year.
Those arrested included women who tried to enter India as well as those who attempted to cross over to Bangladesh between January 1 and August 15 with the help of touts, data collated by the Ministry of Home Affairs reveals.
The numbers are significant since it could break the past few years’ record by the time 2020 ends.
As per an estimate, if the number of women caught during trafficking has crossed 900 in seven-and-a-half months, it could cross the 1,400-mark by the end of this year.
The number of women caught on the International Border between India and Bangladesh was 936 in 2019, a record 1,107 in 2018, and 572 in 2017.
Of the total 915 women apprehended on the borders this year, a maximum of 888 were caught from south Bengal, 14 from Tripura, six from Guwahati in Assam, four from north Bengal, two from Mizoram and Cachar, and one from Meghalaya.
India and Bangladesh share 4,096.7-km-long International Border in West Bengal (2,216.7 km), Assam (263 km), Meghalaya (443 km), Tripura (856 km), and Mizoram (318 km).
The report mentions that maximum women trafficking cases were registered from south Bengal, from where 850 women were caught while crossing over to Bangladesh or entering India. These figures were 620 in 2018 and 462 in 2017.
The data shows that Tripura has been in second position in women trafficking through India’s borders with Bangladesh in 2019, reporting 52 such cases. A total of 47 women were caught on the Tripura frontier in 2018 and 14 in 2017.
Guwahati in Assam was in second place in 2018 after south Bengal, reporting the arrest of 394 women while crossing the border. The figures were eight in 2019 and six in 2017.
Cases of women’s trafficking through the north Bengal frontier though has registered a drastic decline in the last few years. The figure was 87 in 2017, but went down to 39 in 2018, 12 in 2019 and only four till August 15 this year.
Only one case of a woman’s trafficking was registered till August 15 from Meghalaya frontier, from where 11 women were caught last year. Six women were caught from the said frontier in 2018 and three in 2017.
The lowest women trafficking cases were registered in Mizoram and Cachar in Assam. Only two women were caught from these areas till August 15 this year. The cases were three in 2019 and one in 2018. No similar case was registered in 2017.
The Border Security Force (BSF), which is mandated to guard the India-Bangladesh and India-Pakistan borders along with preventing cross-border crimes like human trafficking and smuggling of drugs, had rescued a Bangladeshi woman on August 18 from a gang and arrested a tout.
The woman from Gaya Banda district in Bangladesh was trafficked to India in July last year through the Benapole-Petrapole border along with one of her friends. The woman was carrying gold ornaments worth over Rs 60,000 when BSF troopers deployed at the Bhithari border outpost in West Bengal rescued her during a search operation based on specific intelligence inputs while she was returning to Bangladesh.
Officials posted on the India-Bangladesh border who dealt with the matter told IANS on the condition of anonymity that most women trafficked into India from Bangladesh are sold into sex rackets. After a few years, these women try to return to their native country after earning some money.
The official said gangs of touts operate on both sides of the international borders who facilitate the to and fro illegal entry of these women on the border. Some touts charge a minimum of Rs 1,000 for the job