October 22, 2020 8:00:47 am
To rein in human trafficking, the Uttar Pradesh government has ordered setting up Anti-Human Trafficking Units (AHTU) in 40 districts of the state with the status of a police station, thereby enabling the units to have the power to register FIRs, carry out investigation and take required legal action in the matter.
Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Kumar Awasthi said with the setting up AHTUs in 40 districts, all the 75 districts in the state will now have the anti-trafficking unit.
In 2011 and 2016, the then governments had ordered setting up of units in 35 districts.
Filling the lacunae
With the existing AHTUs in just 35 districts, UP was among six states in the country that had not met the basic norm— mapped out ten years ago – of setting up AHTUs in at least 50 per cent of the total police districts.The latest decision of the state government comes amid the Centre expressing concern over growing cases of human trafficking during the Covid-induced lockdown and asking states to set up AHTUs in every district.
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On June 9, 2011, an order was issued to set up AHTUs in 12 districts — Meerut, Ghaziabad, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Agra, Jhansi, Moradabad, Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi, Basti, Bareilly and Maharajganj. On May 4, 2016, another 12 districts were added to the list – Mau, Kanpur Nagar, Gorakhpur, Bijnor, Jaunpur, Azamgarh, Firozabad, Pilibhit, Sitapur, Ballia, Baghpat and Shahjahanpur.
Two months later, 11 more districts — Muzaffarnagar, Kushinagar, Barabanki, Lakhimpur Kheri, Bahraich, Balrampur, Badaun, Sidharthnagar, Unnao, Hardoi and Shravasti —were told to set up AHTUs.
In the latest order, the government said that Rs 15 lakh has been sanctioned for each of the 40 new AHTUs. “By the UP Police Headquarter letter dated September 28, it has been informed that by the Government of India, for the financial year 2020-21, a sum of Rs 420 lakh has been sanctioned for the AHTUs already established in 35 districts at a rate of Rs 12 lakh each. Similarly, for the 40 new districts, a sum of Rs 600 has been sanctioned at Rs 15 lakh per district,” read the letter sent to the DGP headquarters.
It added that as per Centre’s letter on June 2 for the release of funds to strengthen the existing AHTUs and setting up new AHTUs under Nirbhaya fund there are guidelines attached for the scheme. It added that “trafficking in persons, especially women and children, is an organized crime that gravely violates basic human rights of individuals.”
Earlier this month, in a series of investigative stories, The Indian Express reported that the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) had sent an advisory to all the states to combat human trafficking by setting up of AHTUs in every district on a “most urgent basis”. But official records investigated showed that eight states, including Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and J&K were yet to put these units in place.
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