In the last week of May, we got a lead about a minor being forced into prostitution in a brothel in Moradabad, Uttar Pradesh.  On the 30th May, we left for Moradabad to investigate further.  On 1st June we were at the brothel in Moradabad.  This particular portion of Moradabad was very crowded and prostitution seemed to be a thriving business. We then met the minor we had come to find and rescue, Meera. Meera looked approximately 17 years old, (we would only be able to confirm her age after the ossification test.) Meera shared that she was from Moradabad and had an 11- month son. Every morning she came to the brothel at 10 am and left at 5 pm. As we surveyed the area, conducting a rescue in this crowded area would be a challenge, the brothel keeper as well Meera could disappear during the raid, so the rescue operation needed to be planned well. 

We went to the police station and told them about Meera. We spoke to the superintendent of the Child Welfare Committee, CWC,  and told him about Meera. We went to his office to discuss Meera’s rescue further. The superintendint called an officer from the Anti Human Trafficking Unit,  AHTU and told him about Meera. The officer came to the CWC office and we spoke further about Meera.  The officer wanted to conduct the rescue right away, we explained that Meera had probably left from the brothel, he was adamant that we do it that day itself, he even said he wouldn’t come the next day. He spoke quite harshly to us. Not wanting to antagonize him further,  we kept quiet .

On 3rd June, once again we met with the same officer from the AHTU and we started discussing Meera’s rescue. We were directed to the crime branch. We met the officer at 5 pm and was encouraged by his positive response. We shared an update with the CWC later that evening.

On 4th June at 2:15 pm the police and our team burst into the brothel in Moradabad and rescued Meera and 15-year-old Aneela. The police arrested 5 people- the owner of the house, the brothel keeper, and three customers.

After the police collected evidence from the area, we all left to the police station to record statements and file the First Information Report. Meera and Aleena were extremely hostile towards us.  As per standard procedure, the victims had to do their ossification test so that we could determine their age. The doctor at the hospital refused stating that he needed the victims’ parents’ consent or the victims to give their consent, both the hostile victims refused. 

Both the victims were placed in a one-stop center (temporary shelter for girls and women in distress) and the accused were placed in police custody.  

On 6th June we accompanied them to the court in Moradabad to record their 164 statements. The judge ordered they continue staying in the one-stop centre and for the 5 accused to continue to remain in police custody.