Govt to bring back 20 from India | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 26, 2016 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:05 AM, February 26, 2016

Confined to Prisons, Shelter Homes

Govt to bring back 20 from India

The Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi has recently taken steps to bring back 20 Bangladeshis, who have been languishing in different prisons and shelter homes of Indian southern state of Kerala.

"We have sent letters to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs issuing travel permits for 20 out of 21 men, women and children, whom we have found, after visiting six different institutions in Kozhikode, Thrissur and Ernakulam districts of Kerala," said Mosharaf Hossain Minister (Consular) of the Bangladeshi mission.

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Some of the women and children found in three shelter homes in Kozhikode have been there for more than five years, according to Mosharaf who along with another official visited the institutions for five days.

The officials undertook the trip on January 15 after receiving a letter sent to the mission by Gowher Rizvi, international affairs adviser to the prime minister, with a report published in The Daily Star on November 18 last year.

The news was on a Bangladeshi sex racket survivor passing her days at a shelter home in Kozhikode. Her poetry collection about her pains and longing to return home was translated and published in Malayalam language. An exhibition of the woman's drawings and paintings was also held there.

A week ago, in protest against social exclusion, she revealed her identity as Ayesha Siddika.

"By the time we reached Kozhikode, she had already returned home, but we found three other Bangladeshi women at Mahila Mandiram [where Ayesha lived], a girl at After Care Home and a boy at another government shelter home," Mosharaf said.

Both Mahila Mandiram and After Care Home are state-run shelters for destitute women.

Mosharaf added he had also found six Bangladeshi men in the district jail in Kozhikode, another nine in central prison of Viyyur, Thrissur and one more man in a district jail in Ernakulam district in Kerala.

With the help from Anoop Gangadharan, who runs an NGO named Arm of Joy working for inmates of shelter homes, The Daily Star correspondent was able to talk to the girl and three women in the shelter homes of Kozhikode.

Anoop also helped the mission officials, who visited Kozhikode, with information about these unfortunate souls.

The girl who is currently at the After Care Home said she was duped and trafficked into India one year and seven months ago. Daughter of a cattle trader in Faridpur, the 17-year-old was married to an alleged trafficker two years ago.

"When I came to know that I returned home, but one day a guy sent a message that my husband had sent words for me to go to India. When I did, I was taken to a bad place," the girl said, adding, how she was rescued during a police raid. 

One of the three women at Mahila Mandiram who hailed from Khulna has been there for six years. Now aged 22, she was lured into India by a woman, who had offered her a tailoring job in Bombay.

Another woman, aged around 20, who lives in the same place and was taken to India with the first woman, said she was promised a job in a beauty parlour.

"Following a fight with my sister, I boarded a train to go to my grandparents' home in Jessore. The same woman approached me and comforted me, convincing me to go with her to India," she said.

"No-one from the Bangladesh government contacted us all these years," she said, adding that she was able to contact her family only after the officials visited them and took their addresses.

"My mother cries over phone asking me when I would return home," she said.

Mosharaf said the entire procedure that involves a number of bureaucratic steps might take a month.

Most of the Bangladeshi victims of human trafficking are found in Kolkata and Mumbai, he said, adding, they sent home 131 such victims last year.

"But the total number of victims must be higher than that," he observed.

The mission usually takes steps to send Bangladeshis home once the Indian authorities inform it about the victims rescued within their border.

"But the process often lingers due to difference in languages that results in wrong address in Bangladesh after police verification," he said, adding that the consular wing is considering visiting different places in search of such victims.

"If we could go and talk to them, it would help the verification process," Mosharaf said.

According to Rights Jessore, an NGO in the district that works on trafficked women and children, they brought back 15 people from India last month. Of them, 10 were women, four men and one boy.

Khurshida Khanom, counsellor of Rights Jessore, said last year the organisation brought back 67 people, including 45 women, 11 girls and four boys.

As many as 1,036 people -- 230 women, 690 men, 69 boys and 48 girls -- were trafficked to India, she said quoting data from their documentation cell.

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