Rajnath Singh informed the members that the Ministry of Home Affairs has taken various initiatives such as setting up of Anti Human Trafficking Units (AHTUs) to investigate cases related to human trafficking and capacity building of law enforcement agencies and regular meeting with State Nodal officers. The Ministry has also issued various comprehensive advisories to all States/UTs, Border States and Border Security Force/Sashastra Seema Bal to involve in district crime meetings to improve the effectiveness in tackling the crime of human trafficking and to increase the responsiveness of the law enforcement machinery. The Ministry has launched a sustained campaign titled ‘Operation Smile’ in January, 2015 throughout the country to rescue the missing children, he added.
The Union Home Minister said that after the remarkable achievement, a similar campaign titled “Operation Muskaan” was rolled out in July, 2015 and over 27000 children were rescued. India has ratified the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNCTOC) and SAARC Convention to prevent trafficking in Women and Children. India has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bangladesh for Prevention of Human Trafficking and similar MoUs are being planned with UAE and Nepal also.
The Union Home Minister informed that there has been an increase in the number of crimes against women. The Ministry of Home Affairs has taken measures to tackle crimes against women by amending the criminal law to provide for quicker trial and enhanced punishment for criminals committing sexual assault of extreme nature against women. A Nationwide Emergency Response System (NERS) at telephone number 112 will be set up to provide emergency response to the women in distress.
Rajnath Singh further said that the trafficking in persons, women and children for commercial sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced marriages, domestic servitude, adoption, begging, public sport etc. is an organized crime that gravely violates basic human rights. As per the data collected by National Crime Records Bureau, there is a rising trend in the cases of trafficking in certain categories.
The MHA made a detailed presentation on the subject for the members. According to National Crime Records Bureau, maximum number of crimes against women registered was related to cruelty by husband or relatives, which constitute more than 1/3rd of the total registered crimes followed by assault on women to outrage her modesty and kidnapping & abduction. Crimes against women in the cyber space are also on the rise and women can be victimized in the cyber space. Some perpetrators try to defame women by sending obscene e-mails, stalking women by using chat rooms, developing pornographic videos where women are depicted adversely, morphing of images for pornographic content etc.
Members were also informed about the various steps that have been taken by the Police Forces in Union Territories including Delhi to ensure safety of women. On 20th March, 2015, Government of India has approved reservation of 33% for women horizontally and in each category (SC, ST, OBC & others) in direct recruitment in Non-Gazetted posts from Constable to Sub-Inspector in the police forces of all the Union Territories including Delhi Police.
The Article 23(1) of Constitution of India completely prohibits trafficking in human beings. In addition to this, various other legislations have been enacted from time to time in this regard, such as Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013, Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (ITPA), the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012 and Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act, 2000.
The Commissioner of Police, Delhi, B. S. Bassi also made a brief presentation on different steps taken by the Delhi Police for anti-human trafficking and safety and security of women. The Delhi Police has also taken various initiatives to provide safety to women such as launching of the Mobile App ‘Himmat’, setting up of Women Help Desks 24×7 in all police stations to attend to women complainants and suo-motu action is being taken by Beat Officer against eve-teasers and people misbehaving with women in their areas and a zero tolerance policy is being adopted in this regard. Instructions have been issued to BPOs and reviewed from time to time to ensure that women employees are not made to travel alone with the cab driver and a duly verified security guard.
The members discussed the human trafficking issue in the border areas and emphasised upon the need to rehabilitate the victims rescued during different operations related to human trafficking. They also stressed upon the need for the involvement of local people as a part of the community policing to check these crimes. The members also suggested for necessary strengthening of legislation and awareness of the youngsters through different orientation programmes. They also appreciated the work being done by the Ministry in the border areas to check this menace.
The members also expressed their concern over the very low rate of conviction. Out of the total cases sent for conviction, investigation is completed in approx. 70% of the cases; trials are completed in less than 15 % of the cases and the conviction takes place only in about 8% of the cases. The members suggested that steps should be taken to address this issue.