Jharkhand police made a big success by arresting human trafficking kingpin, Panna Lal Mahto, accused of buying and selling thousands of girls, in Khunti district, police claimed on Friday.
Mahato is accused of selling at least 5,000 Jharkhand children, mostly tribal girls, to employers in New Delhi, Haryana and Punjab.Police also seized several documents related to illegal land deals and trafficking from his possession.
He was arrested from Khunti Tola under Khunti police station on Thursday midnight, said deputy superintendent of police (headquarters), Jaideep Lakra. He said, “We got a tip-off that Mahto was at the house of one Pakhnu Ganjhu in Khunti tola. When we reached to raid the house, he tried to flee with his SUV car but we caught him.”
He said, “We recovered a yellow-coloured file containing details of exchange of money related to human trafficking, a blue-coloured diary related to land deals, a white SUV, cheque books and ATM cards of different banks, non-judicial stamps and other items from him.”
The child welfare committee (CWC), Khunti, had also lodged an FIR against him at anti- human trafficking unit (AHTU), Khunti. A CWC member in Khunti, Baidyanath Kumar, said they had lodged a case against Mahto in August 2018 for his involvement in trafficking of minor girl from a Khunti block. “The girl was trafficked to Delhi last year. She was rescued by Delhi police, who handed her over to Delhi CWC. The girl was, thereafter, brought to Khunti CWC where her statement was recorded,” he said.
“The girl in her statement said she was assaulted and sexually abused. On basis of her statement, police lodged an FIR against Mahto under sections 363, 370 (4),370 (A), 371, 374, 354 (A) and section-8 of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act,” Kumar said.
Mahto was also arrested in the past. Mahto and his wife Sunita Kumari had been apprehended in October 2014 on charges of human trafficking from a hideout in Shakurpur area in New Delhi, when they had gone there to collect their belongings for fleeing to some unknown place.
Khunti police said he had been out of jail on bail since September 2016.
Police said he was also arrested in 2004 and 2006 for human trafficking and other cases. The accused has amassed huge wealth and properties in Ranchi, Delhi and Khunti from their illegal trafficking business, police said.
At least 10,000 children are trafficked every year from Jharkhand to different parts of the country, claim NGOs. A majority of the victims are pushed into domestic works, while some land in brothels, they say.