Racket trafficked 500 women in 5 years
A transnational human trafficking racket, involving some Bangladeshis, has trafficked at least 500 young women and girls to India over the last five years and forced them into sex trade, said Rapid Action Battalion.
The kingpin behind the racket, consisting around 50 members from the two countries, is Ashraful Islam Rafi alias Boss Rafi, 30, of Jhenidah.
He met Rifadul Islam Ridoy, 26, popularly known as Ridoy Babo on TikTok, two years ago and they used the social media platform to lure and traffic 50 girls promising them modelling contracts or well-paid jobs, Rab said during a press briefing at its Karwan Bazar media centre.
After the video clip of a 22-year-old woman being tortured and sexually assaulted went viral on social media, Indian police on May 27 arrested Ridoy along with five other Bangladeshis from Bengaluru.
Following the incident, Rab, over the last two days, arrested Rafi along with three of his associates -- Sahida Begum alias Madam Sahida, 46, Ismail Sarder, 38, and Abdur Rahman Sheikh alias Arman Sheikh, 26 -- from Jhenidah Sadar and Abhaynagar and Benapole of Jashore.
Rab said "TikTok Ridoy" was one of the main agents of Rafi.
Through TikTok and a Facebook group, Ridoy lured the girls in. Rafi with the help of Ridoy then trafficked the girls to the South Indian city.
"The main purpose of trafficking women to India was sex work," said Commander Khandaker Al Moin, legal and media wing director of Rab.
Rafi, a high-school dropout, has travelled several times to southern India over the last eight years. He worked as a taxi driver, resort employee, and also did garments trade there, Rab said.
Rafi learnt Tamil as well.
He got Tk 10,000 to Tk 15,000 as commission for every women he handed over to his Indian cohorts.
He eventually became the ringleader of the racket, Rab said.
According to Rab, Rafi has several "safe houses" in Bengaluru and in the bordering areas of Bangladesh, from where he operates the racket.
HOW THEY WERE TRAFFICKED
First, the women and the girls were taken to the bordering districts -- Jashore, Satkhira and Jhenidah. Then they were kept at "safe houses" adjacent to the border. From there, in a favourable time, brokers or "line-men" took the victims across through unfenced border areas or "managing the people at the border".
The Indian agents would receive the women and keep them at safe houses near the border of the neighboring country. The victims were then sent to Kolkata's safe house and to Bengaluru from there, Rab said.
In Bengaluru, Rafi received the women and kept them in safe houses, where they were forced to drink and have sex with several men, the Rab official said.
Rab said the 22-year-old tortured women in the viral video, was lured by TikTok Ridoy. She was taken to India in October 2020.
"… the victim helped two Bangladeshi trafficked women flee a safe house. That's why, she was tortured brutally," the Rab official said.
Rab said the victim was kept at Madam Sahida's safe house in Jashore before being taken to India.
Sahida has two daughters -- Sonia and Tania -- who are also part of the racket. Tania is the woman seen in the viral video torturing the victim, Rab said.
Many of the trafficked women were sold to people in the Middle East, the Rab official said.
Three Bangladeshi young women, aged between 15 and 25, managed to flee. They are now in police custody. A new footage, found by Bangladesh police, shows brutal torture of one of these India returnees.