Maharashtra: Human Trafficking To Be Probed By Multiple Departments Of AHTU Along With Cops

In order to combat human trafficking, the state’s Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTU) will soon be functioning on a multi-department level.

The Prevention of Atrocities on Women (PAW) Cell has sent a proposal to the state Home department in this regard and is expected to be approved shortly. Confirming it to the Free Press Journal, Special Inspector General, PAW, Deepak Pandey said, “In order to curb the ‘demand factor’ or ‘demand centres’ for trafficked people – it can be male, female, children – the ‘demand centres’ – which are brothels, factories, hospitals – for prostitution, forced or bonded labour, forced removal of organs, respectively – needs to be either shut down or should be monitored closely.”

He further added that the need for a multi-department level is to advance the process and bring in efficiency. As for now, the AHTU are mostly under the gear of the police. “Human trafficking is not just a crime, but a social evil. A social matter that needs mitigation. Hence, the inclusion of other departments to curb or touch down the roots of evil is predominant. When we talk about forced labour or bonded labour – the involvement of the Labour Department is vital along with the police. In cases of brothels or prostitution, the role of the Women and Child Welfare Department includes rehabilitation, reintegration, etc., after the police manage to rescue them. In short, departments coming together will lead to bringing every department’s expertise to work towards one mission,” Mr Pandey further explained.

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The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) of the Government of India sent an advisory to all the Chief Secretaries and the director general of police of all states and union terrorists to expedite the matter. One of the prominent points in this advisory said, “It may be noted that AHTUs are integrated task forces to prevent and combat trafficking in persons and comprise a group of trained sensitive officials of police Women and Child Welfare Department and other relevant departments of the state. The objectives and responsibilities of AHTUs include taking up the crusade against all criminal aspects of the crime of human trafficking, ensuring focused attention in dealing with offences (of the same), and conducting rescue operations.”

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Pandey also mentioned that their target is to curb the demand – which would bring down the supply. “As long as the demand function runs without fear, trafficking would continue. The more the demand, the more there will be supply. Making the state, and importantly Mumbai brothel free is one way to it,” he concluded.

Efforts to Create a Trafficking Transit Database in Full Swing

The FPJ on May had reported how the Prevention of Crime Against Women and Children (PCWC) unit – which is the same as PAW, has begun creating a database of people and gangs which is named as ‘transit’ of trafficking – that connects the source and the destination i.e., the journey of human trafficking, to ultimately bust the routes. These transits can be either inter-state or multinational human trafficking businesses.

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