12 trafficking victims, including three minors, rescued in past three monthsThe Anti-human Trafficking Bureau of Nepal Police says there’s a risk of traffickers targeting the people who have become financially vulnerable due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
The Anti-human Trafficking Bureau of Nepal Police has rescued around a dozen trafficking victims, including three minors, from Nepal and India during nearly three months of strick lockdown enforced by the government to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
In that period, the bureau also arrested 12 people for their alleged involvement in human trafficking.
“The traffickers, like in most cases, had lured their victims by offering them false hope of well-paying jobs and better lifestyle. However, they were arrested before they could reach far from the authorities due to the nationwide lockdown and travel restrictions. Many of them were arrested near the India-Nepal border,” said SSP Deb Bahadur Bohara, chief of the bureau.
Bohara said the bureau had relied on tip offs and complaints on various social media platforms to intercept the traffickers and their victims.
Last Thursday, a team from the bureau had arrested two men on the charge of trafficking a 13-year-old girl to India in February.
Krishna Magar, 22, and Prabin Tamang, 28, of Sindhupalchok were apprehended based on the complaint filed by the girl’s sister-in-law, who had contacted the bureau through the messaging app, IMO.
“The two men reportedly lured the young girl to go with them to India by promising her a job,” said SP Gobinda Thapaliya.
Magar and Tamang allegedly took the girl to Rasalpur, India, from Balaju, Kathmandu, via Bhairahawa border.
“The girl, who was sold to a dance company, was rescued with the help of Indian police and reunited with her family,” Thapaliya said.
Investigation revealed that the teenager had been kept captive for months before she was rescued. She had managed to call her family from India while in captivity.
“The bureau is investigating whether Magar and Tamang were involved in the trafficking of other women and minors,” said Thapaliya.
Officials at the bureau said the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown forced thousands of people out of their jobs, and it is during these times when human traffickers become active.
"Traffickers mostly prey on people who are vulnerable and have no means of livelihood. The Covid-19 pandemic has provided them with that opportunity,” said Thapaliya.
Nepal’s Human Trafficking and Transportation Act 2007 does not limit trafficking to taking “a person out of the country for the purposes of buying and selling”; trafficking is also defined as “taking anyone from his/her home, place of residence or from a person by any means such as enticement, inducement, misinformation, forgery, tricks, coercion, abduction, hostage, allurement, influence, threat, abuse of power and by means of inducement, fear, threat or coercion to the guardian or custodian and keeping him/her in one’s custody or taking to any place within Nepal or abroad or handing him/her over to somebody else for the purpose of prostitution and exploitation.”
The data provided by the bureau shows that in the past four fiscal years, the Nepal Police in coordination with various social organisations rescued 2,333 trafficking victims. Out of them, 520 were girls under eighteen.
Authorities arrested 227 people on human trafficking charges in the fiscal year 2015/16. The arrest numbers rose to 274 the following fiscal year and to 376 in the next. In the fiscal year 2018/19, 245 human traffickers were arrested.