INDIA: Fifteen-year-old girl abducted and sold while police did nothing


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-202-2008
ISSUES: Child rights, Enforced disappearances and abductions, Human trafficking, Police negligence, Police violence, Violence against women, Women's rights,

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from Guria, a local human rights organisation in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh that a 15-year-old girl was abducted by human traffickers, and sold for sexual exploitation.  In the absence of any police assistance or investigation, the father of the child contacted Guria to rescue his daughter. The girl when rescued was found in company of five other girls who had also been forcibly held. The police have registered a case against the traffickers, where the five children who were also rescued are charged as criminals.


Asha (name changed) is a 15-year-old girl, daughter of Mr. Nehru Ghasiya, resident of Jorukhand village, Dudhi block, Vindhamganj Police Station, Sonbhardra district, Uttar Pradesh. She was reported missing in March 2008. Asha is from the Scheduled Caste and her family are labourers and farmers. The family includes her mother and father, four brothers and three sisters.

On the day Asha went missing she had gone to Dudhi from Jorukhand village, and the family later learnt from information, that she was allegedly taken by an auto rickshaw (three-wheeler) driver from Ramnagar village to Duddhi. From here she was taken by another auto rickshaw driver, named Guddu, and sold in the Ramnagar area of Varanasi district. The family were also informed that their daughter was being forcibly held in the Ramnagar area of Varanasi district.

Ramnagar in Varanasi is notorious for brothels. It is also a place where children and women are brought from various parts of the country and from neighbouring countries, boarded in houses, used for local prostitution and later sold for a margin by brothel keepers.

Asha’s father, Nehru, tried to lodge a complaint at the Vindhamganj Police Station about his missing child but the police refused to cooperate and no action was taken. Later on the evening of 27 August 2008, Nehru met Mr. Dev Nandan Pandey, the coordinator of a local NGO Gram Swaraj Samiti (GSS) and the representative of Babhni block, Mr Genda Prasad seeking help to find his daughter.

Nehru and Dev Nandan Pandey met the coordinator of Guria, Mr Naushad Ahmad, in Dudhi for assistance in tracing out Asha in Varanasi. On the same day Naushad, Pandey and Genda Prasad and Nehru went to Jorukhand village and met several persons to confirm the information and whereabouts of Asha. The next day they discussed the case with Mr. Maheshanand from the GSS, the Gram Pradhan (village head) of Jorukhand village, neighbours and other family members. On August 30, Naushad Ahmad brought Asha’s parents to Guria’s office in Varanasi. They decided to rescue Asha from the brothel where she was suspected to be held.

In preparation for the rescue Guria sought permission from the Assistant District Magistrate to search suspected brothels. On August 30, the search and rescue operation was carried out jointly by nine members from Guria and two members from the GSS. Genda Prasad and Nehru were also involved in the rescue. The local police accompanied the team.

They located Asha in a brothel at 3/120 Rattapur, Ramnagar, Varanasi. It is a single storey house and was found to have three bedrooms, a toilet and a narrow corridor. When the Guria – GSS team entered the house, they found that there were five other girls, also held in similar backgrounds in the house along with Asha. Three of these girls were from the Chhattisgarh state and two were from Varanasi.

Asha recounted that they had been made to dance in orchestras and were sexually exploited.  The ‘manager’ Mrs. Anita from Chhattisgarh state, had told her that she was going to be sent to a foreign country within a few days. The brothel keeper, Mr. Paras Nath Maurya, was also arrested from the house.

The First Information Report (FIR) (No. 195/08) was lodged at the Ramnagar Police Station, Varanasi. A case was registered under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act (ITP), 1956 — Sections 3 (Punishment for keeping a brothel or allowing premises to be used as a brothel); 4 (Punishment for living on the earnings of prostitution) and 5 (Procuring, inducing or taking person for the sake of prostitution) and under Section 363 (Punishment for kidnapping) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860.

This case is registered against the brothel keeper Mr. Maurya, his manager Mrs. Antia and the five girls who were rescued from the house. Like Asha, the other five girls rescued from the brothel are also victims of child kidnapping and child prostitution. Guria allege that the police have made the other five girls rescued along with Asha from the brothel as accused in the case with an intention to undermine the prosecution in the case. Guria also allege that the prostitution in Varanasi is a business carried out with the blessings of the local police. Guria has sent a letter to the investigating officer asking that the girls be treated as victims in accordance with the ITP Act.

On September 1, Guria’s advocates opposed a bail application filed by Maurya and Anita in court. The Magistrate rejected the bail application on September 3.


Jorukhand village and the area surrounding it have a large Scheduled Tribe (ST) population in addition to the Scheduled Caste (SC). Kol, Kharwar, Gond, Ghuaia,  Agard, Chero, Bhoxa, Panika, Ghosia are the tribes living in Jorukhand. Dhobi, Naunihar, Ghasias and Dharkar are the SCs living in Jorukhand.

Both the ST and the ST live in poverty and are suffering from a further eradication of their traditional livelihoods, causing them to be mostly landless labourers or small cultivators.  Physical and social marginalisation due to ‘untouchability’ and the caste system, coupled with a lack of rights and financial/political influence has resulted in the ST communities being vulnerable to human traffickers in Varanasi. The low status of women and girls – as the property of their husbands, at risk from gender violence, lacking effective protection from state apparatus–makes them largely powerless against traffickers.

Varanasi is a religious and spiritual site that attracts pilgrims all year round.  This large floating population make Varanasi a haven for criminals.

A similar case involving Guria was reported by the AHRC in 2005. For further information please see UA-190-2005, UP-131-2005, UP-035-2006, UP-036-2007, AHRC-UAC-081-2008 and AHRC-UAU-050-2008.


The Convention of the rights of the Child recognises the importance of State governments in protecting minors (under the age of eighteen) from exploitation and abuse. Article 32 specifically includes the right of children to be free from economic exploitation, and from performing work that may be harmful physically, mentally, spiritually, morally and for social development. It also states that governments are responsible for the legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to implement this article.

Article 34 protects the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, such as the coercion of a child to engage in unlawful sexual practices, and Article 35 contains prevention of trafficking of children: ‘State Parties shall take all appropriate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent the abduction of, the sale of or traffic in children for any purpose or in any form’.

The UN Palermo Protocols’ legal definition of trafficking in persons is now considered to be widely accepted: “Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs’.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions 29 and 105 on forced labour are the most widely ratified of the ILO Conventions and yet the practice still occurs on a vast scale and huge numbers of people remain trapped in slave-like practices for the benefit of others.

Discrimination, poverty, unemployment, gender based violence and oppressive social structures that are found in India represent important root causes that lead to and enable trafficking.  Women and girls face multiple discriminations, such as age, gender, socio-economic status, religion, ethnicity etc. The UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women noted ‘by failing to protect and promote women’s civil, economic and social rights, governments create situations in which trafficking flourishes’.

The existence of the caste system where conditions of slavery are transmitted by birth ensures that there are already large numbers of individuals who are compelled to work, often without payment, in differing forms of forced labour. It also creates a system in which discrimination and exploitation are seen as an inherent part of the social structure and essential to the functioning of society. This creates a lack of awareness within communities of the trafficking in persons.  This may also be a factor in why victims of trafficking are often penalised rather than being treated as victims.

India’s accession of the main human rights instruments: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), signifies its acceptance and therefore recognition of state obligation. Article 8 of the ICCPR states: ‘1. No one shall be held in slavery; slavery and the slave-trade in all their forms shall be prohibited. 2. No one shall be held in servitude. 3. (a) No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour‘. Article 10 of the ICCPR includes the need for children to be protected from economic and social exploitation.

The UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children, outlines in General Assembly Resolution 8/12 suggestions for governments to help them tackle trafficking: training for law enforcement and other relevant officials; informational campaigns and awareness raising for general public and children on dangers of trafficking; enhanced information sharing and data collection; signing and ratifying and the implementation of UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols, in particular the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons.

Article 23 of the Constitution of India specifically prohibits the trafficking of human beings and the most prominent legislation is The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA).  However, this focuses on the trafficking of women and girls for prostitution and sexual exploitation but does not deal with all forms of forced labour as a result of being trafficked.

The Indian Penal Code (IPC), 1860 does include ample legal recourse to punish the criminal activities of abduction, kidnapping and forced labour: Section 340 (wrongful confinement), 361 (kidnapping from lawful guardianship), 362 (abduction), 370 (buying or disposing of any person as slave), 371 (habitual dealing in slaves), 372 (selling minor for purposes of prostitution), 373 (buying minor for purposes of prostitution), and 374 (unlawful compulsory labour); with imprisonment ranging from one year to seven.

Despite this the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has identified human trafficking as one of the fastest growing, and lucrative, criminal activity after weapons and the drugs trade.  This points to a need to urgently invest resources in preventative measures and tackling roots causes–including but not limited to–social marginalisation and the practice of Untouchability, poverty, labour exploitation of Dalits, gender discrimination.

India must as a priority direct state governments’ to undertake the following NHRC guidelines: 
1. analyse demand and supply factors of exploitative labour; 
2. empower vulnerable groups through welfare and development; 
3. improve children’s access to schools and increase attendance, particularly of girls; 
4. awareness of economic rights; 
5. public campaigns on the dangers of trafficking; 
6. review policies and practices that push people into irregular or risky labour migration; 
7. ensuring the compliance of law enforcement agencies to arrest and prosecute those involved in trafficking; 
8. increased coordination between different state apparatus; 
9. ensure legal documentation for everyone; 
10. address the cultural practices of devadasis, jogins, and bhavins (parents marry a daughter to a deity or a temple to become a female ‘servant of god’; usually before puberty; girl is required to be a prostitute for upper-caste community members; as women they usually become village prostitutes unable to marry or to escape).

Further factors that have contributed to the unabated rise of trafficking and the reported immunity for traffickers has been a reluctance to report instances because of such low expectations in the police and judicial system, and a lack of effective protection mechanisms.

Please write to the authorities listed below expressing your concern over the rising instances of trafficking, especially of women and girls.
The AHRC has written separate letters to the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children requesting an intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear __________,

INDIA: The abduction and trafficking of 15-year-old girl must be investigated thoroughly

Name of victim: Asha (name changed) and five other girls rescued from a brothel in Ramnagar, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh state
Name of alleged perpetrator: 
1. Mr. Paras Nath Maurya, 3/120 Rattapur, Ramnagar, Varanasi
2. Ms. Anita, 3/120 Rattapur, Ramnagar, Varanasi
Date of incident: March and 30 August 2008
Place of incident: Jorukhand village, Dudhi block, Vindhamganj Police Station, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh and 3/120 Rattapur, Ramnagar, Varanasi

I am writing to express my concern over the abduction of a 15-year-old-girl Asha, who was taken to Varanasi and sold by human traffickers.  Asha (name changed) daughter of Mr. Nehru Ghasiya, resident of Jorukhand village, Dudhi block, Vindhamganj Police Station, Sonbhardra district was travelling from her village, Jorukhand, to Dudhi when she was mislead by an auto driver and forcibly kidnapped.

Nehru, Asha’s father tried lodging a complaint at the Vindhamganj Police Station when his daughter disappeared. However, it is reported that the police did not register a complaint or investigate it. Later Nehru came to know the whereabouts of his daughter and came to know that Asha was held in a brothel in Ramnagar, Varanasi district.

Nehru contacted a local community organisation Gram Swaraj Samiti (GSS) in Dudhi and the human rights NGO Guria in Varanasi.  Without any assistance or investigation on the part of the police, Asha’s father and the staff at Guria and GSS were able to locate the whereabouts of Asha and later coordinate her rescue from a brothel at 3/120 Rattapur, Ramnagar, Varanasi.  While rescuing Asha, they found five other girls also forcibly held and exploited for labour and sexual purposes.

I am informed that a case has been registered against Mr. Paras Nath Maurya, the brothel keeper and his manager Ms. Anita (First Information Report [No. 195/08]) at the Ramnagar Police Station, Varanasi. I am also concerned to know that along with the two accused named above, the five girls who were also rescued along with Asha are also arrayed as accused in this case.

In fact these five girls like Asha are victims of human trafficking. It is suspected that naming these five girls along with the actual criminals is done with an intention to undermine the prosecution of the actual culprits in the case. Had the police been serious enough, they must carry out further investigation in the case to identify those who are connected with Maurya and Anita, helping them to run the human trafficking trade.

I am informed that the brothel keeper, Mr. Paras Nath Maurya and his manager Ms. Anita, are currently awaiting trial and that they are refused bail by the court.  However, the five girls accused along with the Paras and Anita in the First Information Report (FIR) must be removed from the list of accused and their custody handed over to either Guria or to a Juvenile Protection Centre in the state.

I am aware that despite the right against exploitation enshrined in the Constitution, Article 23(1), human trafficking is still prevalent in India and across its borders.

I am informed that one of the reasons why human trafficking survives in India is due to the lack of proper policing in the country, as evident from this case. Had the Vindhamganj police recorded Nehru’s complaint in March and further investigated the case, Asha would not have ended up in a brothel in Varanasi at this young age. I am also informed that in many instances police tolerate and participate in human trafficking; brothel owners will pay protection money and bribes to the police to prevent being raided and in order to bail out under-aged girls who are arrested.

I am informed that the National Human Rights Commission of India has issued recommendations to the government to incorporate provisions in law and practice to prevent possibilities of human trafficking in India. I am also aware that the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially in women and children has also issued guidelines to be followed by the governments to prevent human trafficking, which apparently is not pressed to practice in India.

I therefore request you to ensure that:

1. The victim and her family receive proper protection from intimidation and further coercion so that a case can be pursued in court;

2. Vindhamganj Police Station and officers undertake a full investigation of those involved in this criminal activity;

3. Immediately remove the names of five girls who were rescued along with Asha from the list of accused in FIR 195/08 of Ramnagar Police Station;

4. A review and investigation into the prevalence of human traffickers in Varanasi is conducted and policies are initiated to tackle this, and;

5. Preventative measures are taken in the state like raising the awareness and empowerment of vulnerable groups, such as women and children.

Yours sincerely,



1. Senior Superintendent of Police 
Varanasi, SSP Office, Kachahari
Uttar Pradesh

2. Inspector General of Police
Varanasi Zone
Varanasi District, Uttar Pradesh

3. Director General of Police
1-Tilak Marg, Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh
Fax: + 91 522 220 6120 / 220 6174

4. District Magistrate
Uttar Pradesh
Fax: +91 54 2234 8313

5. Ms. Mayawathi
Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh 
Chief Minister’s Secretariat 
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 
Fax: + 91 52 2223 0002 / 2223 9234

6. Minister of Women and Child Development
Government of India
Shastri Bhavan
New Delhi
Fax + 91 11 23074054

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (