On 13th June 2023, 15 year old Bangladeshi girl Neelam came to Kolkata with her boyfriend Sohail’s sister Sabha.  The plan was to get married and settle down in India.  Neelam was put on a train by Sabha.  The destination: Ahmedabad,  Gujarat.  Once she reached, Sohail would join her, they would get married and he would enroll her in a school in Ahmedabad. 

Neelam reached Ahmedabad and was greeted by Sohail’s friend Jamal. Jamal took her to a hotel. When she reached the hotel, she asked where Sohail was. Jamal shared that Sohail had sold her to Jamal.  She would be working for him, having sex with customers.  Neelam refused.  An angry Jamal forced a heavily drugged drink down her throat. After which he raped the 15 year old. The next day the hotel manager was her first customer. He also raped her.

A few days later, she met 28 year old Soniya at the hotel.  Soniya was compassionate,  kind and pleaded with Neelam not to do this work. She then told Neelam that they should run away together and go to the police station and complain about Jamal. Neelam readily agreed.  Soniya and Neelam boarded a bus and made their way to Surat.  

On 21st June, they reached Surat.  Soniya took Neelam to her house. She told Neelam that if she wanted to go back to Bangladesh, then she would need to work in the brothel for at least three months to make money to return home. Neelam realized that Soniya was another Jamal.  She had no intention of helping her but also wanted to make money by forcing her into prostitution. That instant, Neelam bolted from Soniya’s house. She ran into a clinic close by. She kept shouting for help and the doctor who could only understand the word help but nothing else since she was talking in Bangla,  called his neighbor Soniya to help the distressed girl. Soniya came immediately, made some excuse to the doctor and pulled Neelam back to her house. This time she locked her in a room. 

Later that evening Soniya and her husband put Neelam on the scooter  and told her they were taking her to the police station. On the way the 15 year old jumped off the scooter and ran away from the couple. She started yelling for help.  A fruit vendor who was not able to understand what Neelam was saying,  took her to the nearest police station.   

At the station, the police were also not able to understand what the hysterical and weeping Neelam was saying.  The Deputy Commissioner of Police called our team (we had worked on a previous case with the DCP in Surat).  We were at the police station with a translator a few hours later.  The police asked us to assist them with Neelam’s case.  On 28th June, we accompanied Neelam to court where she gave her 164 statement.  They have asked us to handle Neelam’s repatriation to Bangladesh. We have spoken to her family back in Bangladesh who will be sending Neelam’s official documents which will help in her repatriation. 

Currently Neelam is safe at a children’s home for girls in Surat. She is very shaken about this whole episode but angry enough to want the people who exploited her, punished.  Sohail the boyfriend who sold her (Sohail is in Bangladesh, his details have been shared with a partner NGO in Bangladesh).  The police have arrested Jamal; the man who raped and pimped her and   Soniya and her husband who were ready to force her into prostitution.