Three Rohingya men were sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment on Tuesday for trafficking two Rohingya women from Bangladesh to Nuh in Haryana, and raping them in 2021.
According to Nuh police officers, the two women, who are in their early 20s, illegally crossed into India from Bangladesh by paying a man ₹25,000. The money was paid by the women to a suspect whom the police have not yet identified. The women were brought to Delhi via Mizoram and Kolkata by the three convicts, who were identified as Mohammad Ayas, Hafeez Ahmed, and Mohammad Yunus. At the time, the convicts were residing at the Rohingya refugee camp in Nuh, said investigators.
According to investigators, the convicts were involved in trafficking vulnerable Rohingya women into Jammu and Kashmir through Bangladesh and later arranged their marriages in exchange for money. However, police said that the two women in this case were raped by the convicts at the Rohingya refugee camp in Nuh.
The court of additional district and session judge in Nuh, Ajay K Verma, on Tuesday, convicted the three men of trafficking the two women and raping them, and also imposed on them a fine of ₹10,000 each. In case of non-payment, they face an additional punishment of one year.
How the women were rescued
According to the Nuh police, the convicts contacted the women’s brother at a Rohingya refugee camp in Telangana’s Hyderabad in September 2021 and said they would release his sisters if he paid them ₹15,000 per woman. The man paid them ₹30,000, but the convicts did not release the women, said investigators.
Instead, they took the women to Malab village in Nuh in September 2021 where they finalised a deal to sell the women to a woman in Kashmir’s Anantnag for ₹70,000 each, said investigators.
“The woman from Anantnag has not been arrested despite several raids conducted in different places. The man who took ₹25,000 from the women to cross the border has not been identified,” said Narender Bijarniya, superintendent of police of Nuh.
Meanwhile, in September 2021, the women’s brother contacted the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) in Nuh. Acting on the tip, a team of CWC and police authorities conducted a raid in Malab village and rescued both women from a temporary hutment in a Rohingya camp in Nuh’s Shahpur Nangli.
Based on a complaint from the women, the Nuh police registered a first information report (FIR) against the three Rohingya men in November 2021 under sections 370 (human trafficking), 370A ( sexual exploitation of a trafficked minor), 342 (wrongful confinement), 120 B (conspiracy), 34 (common intention), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
After the statements of the two victims were recorded and a medical examination was conducted, the police added sections 6 and 8 of the Pocso (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act in the FIR. At the time, the victims were thought to be minors, said investigators.
The convicts were arrested from the refugee camp in December 2021. “All three had confessed to the crime and were sent to judicial custody,” said Pratap Singh, public prosecutor.
Bijarnia said, “They were lodged in Bhondsi jail. Their bail was rejected in 2022, and they were shifted to Nuh jail in 2023 and have not been bailed out.”
Both the women were shifted to an orphanage in the district in 2022, said police.
According to the police, an age determination test was conducted on January 8, 2022, at Pandit Bhagwat Dayal Sharma Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS Rohtak, where the women were determined to be between the ages of 19-20 and 20-22, respectively. After this, sections of the Pocso Act were removed and sections 376 (rape) and 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code were added, said investigators.
The public prosecutor said that the convicts were questioned and they revealed the names of other people who were also involved in the trafficking of these two women.