Thirteen year old Sonali was raised in one of Mumbai’s slums and comes from a poor background. On June 15, 2019, she went missing. When her parents went to the police, they were uncooperative and refused to register the mandatory First information Report (FIR).
One of our volunteers who live in the vicinity came to know about the case and informed us that there is urgent help required for a missing girl. The volunteer who has been through our training was quick in collecting the necessary information and documents regarding the case. After getting legal instruction, he took the parents to the police station, and as trained put pressure on the police and successfully filed the complaint. Things worked and finally the station-in-charge agreed to work quickly and investigate the case. Information was sent to all the police stations and other places, and all the formalities were carried out as per the Juvenile Justice Act guidelines.
The trafficker, before targeting his victim, became very close friends with the family and started spending a lot of time with them. He started bringing expensive gifts and clothes for the family and thus gained their trust. The abuser and the victim got into a relationship, where he bestowed her with gifts and affection. He won the heart of 13 year old Sonali and managed to lure her to go with him. The trafficker took her to various places during those two months prior to taking her to his native place in Uttar Pradesh. He kept telling her that he had spent so much money, giving gifts and clothing to her family, for which Sonali has to compensate.
In August, the trafficker, called Sonali’s parents and threatened them, telling them not to go to the police. This number was put on surveillance and there was a clear lead on the location of the trafficker. Police collected more clues and sent a team to Uttar Pradesh, before the police team reached the traffickers location he managed to slip away. Due to the fear of getting arrested, he brought the girl back to Mumbai and left her at one of the local railway station. She was spotted by the railway police and parents were informed.
After months of working on this case, we eventually got her connected to law enforcement, a shelter for the night, and a long-term plan for what she’s going to do next. The girl’s life has been ruined by the trafficker who became so close to the family. She is innocent and wanted to learn and play with her friends but due to the traffickers threats it was decided by the Child Welfare Committee to send her to a protected home run by the government. Time heals all wounds, but the scars remain. She doesn’t like to live in the past and wants to believe in the present and hope for the future. She has received interim financial relief and will receive full compensation as per POCCSO law.
In the meantime, Mumbai police were trying to arrest Sonali’s trafficker but he was able to slip from Mumbai, for months he was hiding and changing places. After effort of investigators in the last week of November, the police were able to arrest him from his hide out in Uttar Pradesh and brought him back to Mumbai.
We have often experienced that disrupted home life can make children vulnerable to abuse and make them susceptible to people who seem kind and show them affection. We are thankful to our partner who was able to take her legal case so that the victim receives justice and get compensated for the horrible experiences she went through. She is living in a safe environment now and continuing her education.