Crime
In this sordid tale, a 14-year-old was trafficked, brought back to India and trafficked again.
Image: Wikimedia Commons/SM Samee

Young women from Hyderabad continue to be trafficked to middle eastern countries under the guise of marriage. Yet another case that emerged this week, has exposed the dubious ways in which this network of trafficking operates.

The Kamatipura police in Hyderabad arrested five persons including two women brokers, in connection with the marriage of a 64-year-old Omani national with a minor girl who was shockingly, 50 years younger than him.

The accused have been identified as Bipasha Bee, Rahseeda Bee, Naser Bin Mahmood, Fathe Bin Mahmood, Salman.

Earlier this week, the minor's mother, Begum* lodged a complaint that her 14-year-old daughter was married to Shaik Sagharoun Salim Abdullah of Oman in 2014.

"The woman comes from a very poor background and is a widow. She was struggling to make ends meet, and met with a marriage broker,  who charges around Rs 16,000, and creates fake aadhar cards, birth certificates, voter id cards etc," Inspector S. Sudharshan from the Kamatipura police station told TNM. 

The setup

The minor trafficking industry in Telangana involves many players and the brokers who prepare fake documents are first in the chain. The papers are kept ready in advance, ahead of a 'sheikh' or a foreign national's visit, as they 'prefer' children who are in their teens.

"As per the victim's school records, her birthday is on October 18, 2000, but everything was forged, to show her as an adult, on paper," the police officer adds. 

Within a few months of preparing the fake documents, two women brokers Bipasha and Rahseeda Bee, approached the victim's mother.

"The woman brokers, who are usually 45 to 50 years old, go around a locality generally looking for brides. However, there is more money involved in marrying off minors, and they know this. They approached Begum and told her that she could marry off her daughter and live worry-free as the foreign national was rich, and would take care of her," Inspector Sudharshan said. 

The marriage 

After convincing Begum, arrangements for the marriage began. 

The women brokers, were in touch with two other agents, Naser Bin Mahmood and his brother Fathe Bin Mahmood, and a deal was struck for Rs 1 lakh.

The agents are responsible for everything. From the reception of the foreign national at the Hyderabad airport to transportation, accommodation and organising an interview between the girl and the foreigner.

They also coordinate with qazis, to make sure that all forged documents are ready, and the girl can be sent to her ‘husband’. They also take the biggest cut from the deal.

"The marriage took place in Kamatipura, and the agent took Rs 25,000. The rest was distributed among the lodge owners, and other such expenditure," Inspector Sudharshan said. 

The police also said that the foreign national would pamper the family with gifts.

"He would buy them clothes, toys, gifts etc, and convince them that he was rich. However, the truth was otherwise," Sudharshan added.

Trafficked to Oman

After the marriage which took place on November 14, 2014, Abdullah spent a week with the girl in a lodge. Following this, he returned to Oman and sent a visa for the girl.  She travelled to Oman in December that same year.

"When she went there, Abdullah was not as rich as he portrayed to be, and lived in a small house with a large family. He confined the girl in a room with some other Indian contacts (agents/brokers) that he knew in Oman, and used to visit her over there," Sudharshan said. 

"It was like a lodge, and he paid an amount to keep the girl there. There are also allegations of rape and torture," he added.

The victim spent two years in Oman, before she was able to return in March this year, on health grounds.

However, that was not the end of her troubles.

Re-trafficked 

"Two months after she returned home to Hyderabad, Abdullah called her and asked her to come to Oman. When she refused, he started calling the agents and brokers, and telling them that he had wasted his money," Sudharshan says.

Police said that the girl was then forced to go to Doha in Qatar in July on a house help's visa by the brokers, but was tortured there as well, by her employer. 

Following this, her mother approached the police. 

Breaking the nexus

"In such cases, the mother is also to blame but we do not want to pursue that aspect at the moment, as it would be insensitive. While she does come from a poor family, there is a need for awareness on such issues," Sudharshan says. 

The police also arrested a sixth person, Siddiq Ahmed, the qazi who performed the marriage.

"We have advised qazis to check the age difference between couples while marrying them, and also ask the woman if it is happening with her consent. If not, they have been asked to reject performing the marriage," Sudharshan says.

The police have now registered a case under Sections 376 (rape), 370 (buying or disposing of any person as a slave), 420 (cheating), 468 (forgery), 471 read with 34 (fraud or dishonesty).

A case under relevant sections of the POCSO act and Indian Passport Act were also registered. "Our main priority right now, is to rescue the girl. We will be writing a letter to the government, and taking up the issue with them," Sudharshan said.