Police have arrested eight persons in connection with the alleged kidnapping and sale of a 12-year-old girl from northeast Delhi 10 years ago. The girl, who was sold at least 12 times, raped, and married off twice, found her way back home on July 26 and was reunited with her mother and sister, said police.
Police said she was sold to nine persons within two months in 2009. The victim, now 22 years old, has two children, police added.
Delhi Police formed a special investigation team (SIT) after her return and are pursuing leads on other alleged human traffickers in the case. The gang is suspected of kidnapping girls to be sold off for marriages across Punjab and Haryana.
“The case was reopened, the statement of the victim was recorded, and a medical examination was conducted. A special investigation team (SIT) comprising inspectors Sanjeev Kumar and Mangesh Tyagi and sub-inspector Mamta was formed under the supervision of ACP Ram Chander and sent to Punjab and Haryana from where we arrested all the accused. We believe that a gang operates for the sole purpose of selling girls for marriages,” DCP (northeast) A K Singla said on Thursday.
Police said the victim was kidnapped on July 2, 2006, and after being sold over and over again, she was forced to settle in Punjab’s Mansa district after being married off to a truck driver. Police said the victim had two children with the truck driver, who died in 2011 due to a heart attack. His nephew allegedly raped her after his death.
The victim and her mother accompanied the investigators to Punjab and gave them vital leads on the accused, said a police officer. The police first nabbed Pratap Singh and his son Jaggi. They had allegedly put the victim in a car and assured her they would drop her home. Instead, they took her to Gujarat in a train and kept her in a house built in the fields, the officer added.
“We went to Bathinda first. The victim had stayed there for the last one year. From there we went to Mansa and got leads and were able to arrest Jaggi and Pratap Singh from Sangrur. They had moved to Gujarat in 2006 and made the victim work in the fields. She was married off to Jaggi,” said the officer.
Questioning the father-son duo led the police to an alleged tout, Sarup Chand, who had procured the victim for them. “Two teams stayed back in Punjab and followed the leads. Several people were arrested. Finally, accused Ranju and her husband Shyam Sunder, who had abducted the victim in 2006, were arrested. During questioning, they said they had abducted at least seven girls and sold them in Punjab. We are verifying the information,” said the officer. Ranju and Shyam Sunder allegedly sold the girl to Aruna alias Babli, who sold her to Chand, said police.
The victim spent three years in Gujarat before two persons brought her to Longowal, where she was forced to marry the truck driver. “In 2015, the victim was thrown out of her house and she stayed in Bathinda, working as a cook at weddings and as a dancer in events. Later, she was taken to Siliguri and sold at a dance bar,” said the police officer. “She met a woman in the bar who gave her money to return to Punjab. This woman convinced her to return to Delhi.”
Babli’s arrest also led to rescue of two minor girls, said the officer. They had been kidnapped from Jaunpur in Uttar Pradesh and Muzaffarpur in Bihar and kept in a rented room in Kurukshetra, added the officer.
Arrests from Punjab and Haryana
* Pratap Singh, his son Jagshir Singh aka Jaggi — Arrested on August 8 from Punjab after the victim provided the location. The duo had bought the victim for Rs 20,000 when she was 12 years old. She was married off to Jaggi. The duo had moved from Punjab to Gujarat and returned to Punjab in 2009.
* Sarup Chand — Arrested on August 12 from Punjab. Allegedly a tout, he procured the victim from accused Babli aka Aruna for Rs 10,000 for Pratap Singh and Jaggi.
* Aruna aka Babli — Arrested in Haryana on August 14. She had purchased the girl from one Ranju and her husband Shyam Sunder for Rs 12,000 and sold her later.
* Ranju and Shyam Sunder: Arrested on August 15 in Delhi. Both had allegedly abducted the girl in 2006 and taken her to Ambala, where they sold her to Babli.
* Makkhan Singh: Arrested on August 17 from Sangrur. Allegedly the mediator in marrying off the minor in 2009 to a truck driver. The truck driver died in 2011.
* Birender Singh: Arrested on August 17. He is the nephew of the truck driver and allegedly sexually assaulted the victim after his death.