Probe into trafficking of Indian women into SE Asia

October 14th, 2008 - 2:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Kuala Lumpur, Oct 14 (IANS) Authorities in India, Malaysia and Singapore are intensifying a probe into a widespread trafficking racket that pushes women from India’s northeastern states into flesh trade in Malaysia and Singapore.Investigations have intensified after the rescue of five Indian girls here, leading to the arrest of several kingpins in three countries, The New Straits Times said.

Manipur appears to be the prime source of the girls, called “Spices of India”, and the police have begun simultaneous operations, arresting many gangsters including Philip Gangmei and Vicky Kungo in Imphal Sep 23, followed by three more arrests Oct 3.

Singapore and Malaysian policed are believed to be hot on the trail of another man, believed to be the mastermind of a Singapore-based “recruiting firm”, the newspaper said.

Earlier this month, Indian sleuths intercepted five women in Dimapur, Nagaland, just when they were about to be shipped to Singapore via Kolkata.

Yet another group of 15 young women, this time from the north Indian state of Punjab, were rescued by temple priests in Kuala Lumpur and repatriated to India last month.

“We believe the rescued girls are just the tip of the iceberg. There could be many more victims from other Indian states,” the newspaper quoted a woman diplomat as saying, but did not name her.

She said that tribal girls from India’s northeast were being projected and were sought after for their “exotic” and “pure” qualities. They were in demand by the wealthy converging at nightspots.

The case came to light when one of the five girls from Manipur and Assam escaped from a Kuala Lumpur night club, where they were being kept locked after their arrival from Singapore last month.

The woman who escaped Sep 17 alerted the Indian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, which then sought the assistance of Malaysian Police to rescue the other four.

The woman revealed that they were lured to Singapore on the promise of jobs as maids for six months. However, they were later made to work as bar girls and prostitutes in night clubs in Singapore and Malaysia.

Sudhir Kumar Mehrotra, counsellor in the Indian High Commission, was quoted as saying that over 150 girls from Manipur, Assam and Nagaland were believed to have been duped by recruiting agents.

Repatriation of Stranded Girls (RSG), an NGO, has sent an appeal to Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh in this regard. The National Commission of Women, the All India Christian Council, the Northeast Support Centre and Helpline have met the Malaysian High Commissioner in New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Tribal Affairs Minister P.R Kyndiah urging early and stringent investigation into the matter.

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