In one of the largest convictions for human trafficking in the country, 39 of the total 87 accused, charged with selling girls, were sent to 10 years imprisonment and fined Rs 2.47 lakh by the District and Sessions Court in Ballari. The court that convicted the accused on Tuesday, pronounced the quantum of punishment on Wednesday. The trial in the case extended for three years but ended on a victorious note for the prosecution that was able to establish the guilt of the middlemen, traffickers, transporters and handlers apart from those running the prostitution dens.
The remaining 48 accused, also charged with human trafficking including 21 minor girls, are being tried in three separate cases. "The entire judicial proceeding took over three years of meticulous planning and preparation. At every stage of the trial, which was finally done against 50 accused, all the victims testified bringing out the most important and fundamental details of the criminal network and their modus operandi," said Rathod Ramsingh, Special Public Prosecutor.
Three years wait for justice
In August 2013, the Ballari Police were successful in rescuing 43 victims, of whom 21 were minors, from brothels after being tipped-off by an anti-human trafficking NGO. The police were also successful in arresting 51 of the 87 involved in selling girls for sex. The police conducted several rescue operations in the DC Nagar area of Ballari to carry out these arrests.
During the operations, Rs 4.59 lakh in cash were also seized from the locations. Seven of those rescued were from Bangladesh and the rest were from different parts of the country such Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal, Karnataka and Odisha.
The minors rescued in the operations were shifted to government care homes for girls in Bengaluru. Meena Jain who was the then Chairperson of the Child Welfare Committee said, "We need to make sure that traffickers are booked, tried and prosecuted. The convictions should send across a strong message that such criminal activity will not be tolerated. Now that justice is served, lives of these children should also be addressed. They should be allowed to live a normal life."
Ballari additional district and sessions judge, V H Dharwadkar passed an order convicting the accused under Sections 366, 366a, 366b, 368, 370, 370a, 372, 373 of IPC, sections 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and under sections 3 and 4 of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act.