Three days after an Uzbek woman was found murdered in Sonepat near the Delhi border, a second Uzbek woman who was initially a suspect is now feared to have been killed as well, police sources told The Indian Express.
Police believe that Atazhanova Shaknoza Kupalbayevna — like her murdered compatriot Shakhnoza Shukurova — was also a victim of human trafficking, after recovering a letter she had drafted and addressed to the Uzbekistan embassy in India but did not deliver.
Dated November 25, 2014, the letter, written in Uzbek, details Kupalbayevna’s journey from her hometown to a life of forced prostitution in Delhi and Punjab, police sources said. It describes how she was allegedly pushed into prostitution, beaten on several occasions and threatened with dire consequences if she reported her predicament to the embassy.
The letter was found from among Shukurova’s belongings on Thursday by her mother who handed over copies to Delhi police and the Uzbekistan embassy. Sources said police are still investigating the link between Kupalbayevna and Shukurova.
Shukurova, who had gone missing from South Delhi’s Kotla Mubarakpur in September, was found murdered in Sonepat on November 16.
In the letter, Kupalbayevna introduces herself as a 28-year-old single daughter living in “hard conditions” with no electricity or water. “I had to look for a job. A girl named Muyassar, residing in Vodnik, told me…that she had a job of a babysitter and a housekeeper. On July 31 I heft Horazm and came to Tashkent… and stayed there till August 9,” she wrote.
Kupalbayevna claimed that Muyassar sent her to India. “She sent me from Tashkent to Almaty to Istanbul and from Istanbul to Kathmandu. I was on an airplane for the first time and I had never been abroad,” she wrote.
In Delhi, Kupalbayevna wrote, she lived in a hotel for five days before being approached by Manjit and Gurvinder — also known as Gagan — who is now in police custody for Shukurova’s murder.
Kupalbayevna added that she handed her passport over to another woman, Dilya, and worked as a maid in her house for seven days till Gagan took her away.
“We went to some place six hours from Delhi. Later, I found out that the place was called Chandigarh. I asked what I was going to do there, and the girls told me I had to dress nicely and sit, I would be looked at. There was one girl named Zamira who was engaged in prostitution; I could not understand anything and was forced to work. I worked there for seven days and returned to Delhi to Gagan’s and Masha’s house,” she wrote.
Kupalbayevna added that she met Muyassar again in September who sent her to work for a “broker” named Gorof.
“I worked for 11 days. For each day of my work, she (Muyassar) received Rs 15,000. On September 13, I came to work for a broker named Rohan. Every day, I was forced to have sexual relations with six or seven men. They took the money from a broker 10 days in advance. I worked until September 15 and told them that I need to send money home for my brother’s surgery. They gave me $500 and said it was a loan,” she wrote.
In the letter, Kupalbayevna also describes the beatings she allegedly got at the hands of Gorof’s mistress, Gagan and Muyassar. “…A broker, Gorof’s mistress, a husband and wife, and Gogan and Muyassar, beat me… I wanted to go home but they told me I had to pay my debt off and then I would be able to leave,” she wrote.
Kupalbayevna also claimed in the letter that she met a Chandigarh resident Billy who married her.
Alleging that Muyassar had claimed that she enjoyed the support of some Uzbekistan embassy employees, Kupalbayevna concluded the letter with a plea for help.
“I am asking you to help me; I want to live with my husband. I, Atazhanova Shaknoza Kupalbayevna, came to India to Masha and her husband, Gurvinder. Masha’s real name is Muyassar. I gave her Rs 1 lakh for my passport. If something threatening my life happens to me while I am in India, I am asking to blame Muyassar (Masha) and her husband Gurvinder (Gogan),” she wrote.