The Director General of Police (DGP), Bihar,Abhyanand met with a delegation of anti-trafficking activists from the internationally known grassroots organization Apne Aap Women Worldwide today who petitioned him to withdraw the false cases registered against their activist Mohammad Kalam at Forbeasganj, Araria, Bihar. Meeting with the Tinku Khanna, Kalam, Manish K Jha, and Soumya Pratheek of Apne Aap the DGP said that he would treat trafficking not only as a criminal activity but also “as an economic offence”. He said that he would target the kingpins of the trafficking network, and promised to appoint a police officer from his office to investigate the complaints of Apne Aap activists and the subsequent police actions.
Welcoming the DGP’s gesture, Apne Aap Women Worldwide Founder President, Ruchira Gupta said: “We have full faith in the law of the land. Apne Aap is urgently calling for enforcement officials to prosecute the buyers and sellers of sex, not the women who are victims of trafficking and activists working to stop the exploitation.” Ms. Gupta added, “We will cooperate with the police in their investigation to bring the guilty to book.”
Apne Aaap Women Worldwide, has been actively engaged in Bihar’s Araria district, and has launched a signature campaign across the world to garner support in favor of its activist Mohammad Kalam who has been implicated in false charges of trafficking by the local police. Hundreds of supporters have already signed this petition requesting the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to drop charges against Kalam and protect abused women and girls. The petition says: “The district police of Araria are going out of their way to stop Kalam’s and Apne Aap’s work. They have harassed our staff and their families, lodged false reports against the organization’s founder Ruchira Gupta and even abducted one staff member’s 15-year-old daughter at midnight and kept her in Forbeasganj Police Station overnight without food, water, blanket or a female escort. This threatening behavior continues with impunity".
Apne Aap Women Worldwide has been working to empower girls and women to resist and end sex trafficking since 2002. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, met with Apne Aap’s victims and survivors on her last visit to India and joined its campaign, Cool Men Don’t Buy Sex, by putting on a wrist band gifted by Apne Aap.
Apne Aap activist Kalam has seen horrors of trafficking and sex trade first-hand. His mother and sister, both exploited in prostitution as minors, educated him to end this brutal practice. “As an anti-trafficking advocate, he risks his life dealing with violent traffickers in order to rescue girls as young as nine years of age. A Project Officer with Apne Aap, Kalam holds an LLb degree. He was named the Activist of the Year by The Week magazine and has been nominated for the US International Visitors’ Programme. His life story is being released in a Norwegian book, Town of Love, this week. The police, however, are protecting the interests of the traffickers in a community where trafficking young girls is rife,” the Apne Aap Petition asserts.
Apne Aap is a lifeline for exploited women and girls who have no other escape from rape, violence, malnutrition and disease. “Apne Aap has closed down brothels, shrinking down one red-light district by 90%, and ensuring the arrest of traffickers,” said Tinku Khanna of Apne Aap.
"We have stood up against threats to women’s rights worldwide. Let’s now join together to bring these policemen to account,” said Manish K Jha and Soumya Pratheek who are directly involves with Anti Trafficking activities in the area.
A copy of the memorandum has also been forwarded to the Chief Justice of India, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.