Arrest of 2 women agents bares well-oiled ring : The Tribune India

Trafficking trail

Arrest of 2 women agents bares well-oiled ring

Another on run | Active in Doaba, target poor

Arrest of 2 women agents bares well-oiled ring

A woman travel agent in police custody in Jalandhar. Tribune Photo

Tribune News Service

Aparna Banerji

Jalandhar, June 5

Days after a Shahkot woman travel agent was arrested in a case of human trafficking, another woman was arrested today. A third agent based in Phillaur is still on the run.

Their involvement in the case has exposed an organised network of women travel agents operating in the Doaba region, befriending poor and hapless women and pushing them into seedy jobs in Gulf countries.

On June 2, FIRs under Sections 370 and 420 of the IPC were registered against Sonia of Apra village and Parveen at the Phillaur police station. While Sonia was arrested early this morning, Parveen, it is learnt, has fled abroad. Of the three women sent abroad from the town, only one, Rekha (name changed), has returned so far.

Narrating her ordeal, Rekha said Sonia befriended her and offered her a job with Rs 30,000 per month salary in a Gulf nation. Rekha paid Rs 55,000 to Sonia by pooling all her savings and borrowing from relatives. She was lodged at an agent’s office in Oman for months and worked for an Arab family.

“We were promised good living, but the misery began soon after I reached Oman. The agents held women captive and assaulted them. Those who raised voice were framed on theft charges. Sonia should be handed over exemplary punishment,” she said, adding that there were 50-60 women from Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and other states working as bonded labour.

Suresh Kumar (name changed), whose mother is in Oman, said, “My mother was assaulted. Her passport is with travel agents for over nine months. I request the government to ensure her safe return.” A third Phillaur woman whose family paid Rs 70,000 to their neighbor, Parveen, is also yet to return.

Phillaur DSP Jagdish Raj said, “We have been warning people against the activities of unlicensed travel agents. We have lodged three FIRs in Phillaur and arrested one agent.”

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