Guwahati: Human trafficking has been a major challenge for the Northeast states and in recent years, a particularly severe issue for Tripura. The state regularly reports cases of human trafficking and the recent story of a woman allegedly trafficked has once again left locals worried.

A 35-year-old woman missing from her home in Chailengta village, Dhalai district of Tripura, is suspected to have been trafficked to Mumbai. The woman’s father, Indrasen Chakma, alleged that she had been lured by a trafficker with a promise of a job from her home in Tilakpara over a month ago in October.

The victim went missing on October 19, and her family complained with the Chailengta Police on October 22. But despite repeated complaints, the family alleged that no efforts were being made to find her.

“She was talking to someone online and left for Agartala (93 km from Dhalai) one day to buy something, after which she went missing,” Ashika Chakma, the victim’s sister, told EastMojo. Ashika has been running from pillar to post trying to get help to find her sister. 

“My sister was not educated. She could not even read or write English. She could only speak little Hindi. She was trapped either by false promises or some other means,” said Ashika, who accompanied her father when they approached the cops.

“After putting lots of pressure on the police, they registered an FIR (No. 019 – IPC Section 370/ 370A) on November 8 around 3 am. The investigating officer from Chailengta Police station says that the case had transferred to the district level, and it has been over a month. We don’t know where she is in Mumbai,” said Ashika Chakma.

The family suspects that the man, who the victim was talking to, is either the trafficker or involved in the business. His Trucaller profile name, Ashika recalls, was Chunchun Salim, the main suspect. “I got the call detail records (CDR) from the investigating officer (IO) and from there, I found the trafficker’s phone number and found his phone number linked with Phone Pe or G Pay where I found his original name,” said Ashika, who suspects someone by the name of Hamidullah Malik to be involved with her sister’s disappearance.

“There are not enough resources in the local police station. But the IO claims to have solved the case all by himself. Even when Mumbai police tried to contact him for a green signal for the last LBS (location-based service), they refused,” she added, explaining that the police, despite having found the victim’s last location in Mumbai, still refused help from cops in Maharashtra.

“You have taken a degree, otherwise, you too would have been trafficked,” a cop allegedly told Ashika, she said, stating that many women get trafficked in Tripura and that the same is no news to them.

“Our investigation is going on. All probable actionable points we have done, and we are trying our level best. We have done everything to trace out the missing woman. We sent a proposal for transferring the case to cybercrime because that is the main agency. We tried our level best, but we sent a proposal to SP, and he sent a proposal to DGP level, I think,” the Officer-in-charge of Chailengta police station, Sura Kumar Debbarma told EastMojo.

When EastMojo approached the Superintendent of Police, Kishore Debbarma, to find out about the developments in the case, he refused to comment on the issue or give out any details about the case. On speaking with the Investigating Officer Partha Pratim Reang, he too seemed unsure about the present situation. “The case has perhaps been transferred to cybercrime,” said Reang.

Sources from the police headquarters told EastMojo that the case was transferred to the Crime Branch on December 3, and accordingly, the investigation started the next day.

“According to the prima facie the woman had travelled herself from Agartala to Guwahati on a bus, and from there she travelled to Delhi and then Mumbai. The Crime Branch has the bus ticket details,” the official said.

When asked about taking help from the Mumbai Police, the official said that they had the person’s location with whom she was in constant contact. “A police team is expected to travel to Mumbai to arrest the suspect, who is expected to know the whereabouts of the victim. Once we know the exact location, only then we will ask for help from Mumbai police,” the official added.

He also revealed that during investigation it was found that the woman was active in several dating sites and had been in constant touch with around 4 to 5 persons. 

“Her son has confirmed the names of the dating sites the woman had been using. She has also spoken with her mother last time when she had informed that she would not return home again,” the official said.    

What Ashika finds disturbing is that her sister’s husband was allegedly making money off his wife through the smartphone application/website, through which the victim fell prey to the trafficker. The victim’s husband did not file a missing complaint even after days of his wife’s disappearance from Chailengta.

“My sister had also been receiving threatening calls from the trafficker. She was told that he (the trafficker) knew his whereabouts and could track her down and harm her family if she did not come online on the dating app,” said Ashika Chakma.

When EastMojo got in touch with the victim’s husband Sadhan Mitra Chakma and asked him about the disappearance of his wife, he said that his wife had been missing since October 19 and that he had filed a complaint on October 22. He also said that the police had been cooperative, which went completely against what Ashika Chakma claims.

The trafficking victim, who has a 13-year-old son, has not yet been found by Tripura Police after over a month of her being trafficked, and the family fears for her life.

What is more worrying is that after this case, the local media reported that two more women had gone missing from Gandacherra and Chawmanu, also suspected to have been trafficked.

Earlier this year, state officials rescued 11 girls in Agartala, soon after they were brought from a Bru refugee camp in north Tripura on Wednesday. A middle aged man who escorted the girls in a vehicle bearing Meghalaya registration number was arrested. The girls were inmates of a Mizoram Bru refugee camp at Gachiram Para in the Kanchanpur subdivision, which is home about 34,000 refugees who have been housed in six makeshift camps in Kanchanpur for the past 24 years. Cases of human trafficking, officials said, was particularly grim in the Bru community as many women continue to be trafficked to various parts of the country in the name of employment opportunities.

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