Hyderabad agents sell Lucknow woman

Hyderabad: Vulnerable women, especially young widows, and young girls are being targeted by human traffickers who sell these women to bidders, mostly from the Gulf countries, on the pretext of getting them a high-paying job.

Lalita Subba, one such victim from Lucknow, is the wife of an ex-serviceman who died in the line of duty. She said she was cheated by two Hyderabad-based travel agents, Ali Azghar and Mohammed, who sold her to a Muscat resident for Rs 5 lakh.

“The man snatched my passport and mobile phone upon my arrival. He and his wife used to mentally and physically torture me and when I refuse to cooperate, injure me with a hot iron rod,” she said.

Recollecting her escape tale, Lalita said she came into contact with two other victims, a Rizwana and an unnamed Gujrat native, who helped her get a new phone and SIM. “I managed to get my passport while the beast was away. I contacted the Indian Embassy in Muscat and narrated my ordeal. Within two weeks, by the grace of God, they sent me back to India,” she said.

She said that she wanted to make money to build her house in Lucknow and came into contact with the accused. She said that Mohammed had made sexual advances towards her, which she refused, following which the duo allegedly stole her bag that contained valuables and made a deal with the Muscat-based employer to sell her.

“The incident took place in 2021. I was completely depressed and was in trauma after being tormented for over 20 months. With great difficulty, I managed to overcome this,” Lalita said.

“During the two weeks in the embassy, I met over 70 such victims from various states. Seven of them were from Hyderabad, while others were from Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Gujrat,” Lalita said.

Another victim, Mahamuda Khatoon, of Old City, said there are hundreds of such victims from the lower middle-class families in the city and districts, who were cheated. Most of them are hardworking people who were looking to better their lives, but were cheated by the mafia, who sold them to people in Gulf countries, on the pretext of employing them as babysitters or household helps.

Rehana Begum, a social worker from Old City, said that women and girls aged below 20 years are sold for Rs40 lakh, while those aged between 20 to 50 are sold for Rs10 lakh to Rs40 lakh, and those aged above 50 years are sold for Rs5-Rs10 lakh.

Begum said that local NGOs are also involved in the human trafficking nexus, as they target vulnerable women staying at their shelter houses.

“It's hard to get them as they operate secretly, have no office and use fake names and ID cards when staying in lodges. These traffickers have a vast network and keep changing their hideouts from one state to another,” Begum said.

In Lalita’s instance, her ordeal did not end upon returning to India as the Lucknow Police refused to lodge a complaint against the two travel agents, and instead, directed her to approach the Hyderabad Police.

Finally, on April 26, the Nampally Police registered an FIR into the case under sections 406, 420 and 34 of the IPC.

“It was my worst nightmare. Even today, I am not able to sleep as I was subject to the worst kind or torture and harassment in Muscat. Now, Mohammed and Ali Azghar are not responding to my calls. They collected Rs5 lakh and deliberately put me into trouble after I refused to spend the night with Mohammed at a lodge in Nampally,” Lalita said.

Now, Lalita, who wanted to build her house in Lucknow, is penniless and staying at the Nampally Railway Station as she waits for justice. She is also yet to get her luggage, which mostly contains memoirs, such as photos of her parents, despite them being her only possessions.

A police officer who is privy to the investigation said: “We are tracking their SIM through GPS. It seems that they are habitual offenders, cheating and sexually abusing needy women job aspirants from not only Telangana, but Kerala, Mumbai Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.”

The police said that Mohammed fled to Muscat upon learning of Lalita’s return, while Ali Azghar is on the run, in India. “Once we get them, we will get the other accused involved in the illegal business. The agents are a small part of the human trafficking mafia; they operate from lodges of congested Nampally,” the officer said.

The police said that their modus operandi was to collect lakhs of rupees from women seeking jobs in foreign countries. They then make sexual advances towards the women and if they refuse, deliberately send them to employers with a track record of torturing victims, the police said.

  • 300 human traffickers working under the cover of travel agents are operating in city
  • Their modus operandi is to trace widows, divorcees and young girls, gain their confidence assuring a better life in Middle Eastern countries and sell them for tens of lakhs of rupees
  • Agents send victim's pictures to prospective buyers, fix a rate and send them on the pretext of getting them jobs as a caretaker, cook or babysitter, using the same for visas. Once the women reach their destination, their passports and phones are seized
  • Women and girls aged below 20 years are sold for Rs40 lakh, while those aged between 20 to 50 are sold for Rs10 lakh to Rs40 lakh, and those aged above 50 years are sold for Rs5-Rs10 lakh
  • Earlier, the city police banned contract marriages ‘mutta’ with Sheikhs from the Middle East. The agents, since, have started involving in trafficking, the police said.
( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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