Mumbai: Heads in the police have rolled following a bar raid in Panvel that unveiled a prostitution ring.
Superintendent of police (Thane rural) Sangramsingh Nishandar following a tip-off by an NGO, on Thursday raided a bar and lodge in Panvel and exposed a flesh trade racket. The police arrested 45 people including one of the bar owners who fled during the raid. - The Times of India
In February, we put a shaky plea out to you, as our community here at The Exodus Road. We didn’t have a well-laid marketing plan, we didn’t have a product to sell. We simply knew there were brothels which held victims that needed to be busted.
And we didn’t have the funds in our account to do it.
So we put it out to you. We called it the 7/40 Project because initial intelligence from India estimated that there were seven brothels with an estimated 40 victims. (Circumstances eventually led the team to focus on the biggest dance bar first, instead of all seven at once). “No gimmicks, just rescue,” we wrote. And, to our surprise, in four days, you fully funded this project donating $3,435–an amount beyond our initial ask.
We wired the money, and the team we help fuel in India, Indian Rescue Mission, began the process of investigating and mobilizing the authorities. They tenaciously pushed through obstacle after obstacle, through red-tape, evidence-gathering, and even political unrest which delayed the raid itself.
But, finally, Thursday evening, rescue came. In bigger ways than any of us imagined. We were texting with the India team all morning, and finally when the dust from the sting operation settled, we saw this picture:
And we discovered not 40 victims in seven brothels, but 89 trafficked victims in one.
32 of the girls were under the age of 18.
The girls were identified by police and the investigative team and immediately taken to a safe house. We’ll be trying our best to follow up with the team on the ground as to their placement, and we’ll keep you posted.
And while we are thrilled for the literal freedom of the 89 girls who testified they were “tricked” into working at the dance bar and were brought in from nearby states in India, we are also excited that this case will probably lead to 5 convictions of the leaders of prostitution racket itself, as well as will highlight the complicit police in the area. Several top police staff have been removed from their positions. The India news reported:
The Thane police had on Thursday night raided the Kapal bar on the old Mumbai-Goa highway and rescued 89 women including 32 minor girls from the bar and an adjoining hotel. R 1.15 crore in cash and R 45 lakh worth of gold ornaments were also seized in the raid. – Mid-Day News
Following the raid at a dance bar in Panvel near Mumbai late on Thursday, in which 32 minor girls were rescued from a prostitution racket, the Home department has initiated an inquiry against police officers who allegedly did not take any action even though the bar was located just three kilometres from the police station. - The Hindu
Though you probably won’t be able to understand the language spoken, the following is a video news report of the raid (click on the photo):
Following the raid, the message we received from team leader, James, was that many of the dance bars/brothels were then shut down completely or greatly slowed their business because brothel owners were afraid the police crackdown might come to their doors, as well. And while we know that this lull won’t last, the reaction speaks loudly to the power of raids and arrests with local authorities.
Friends, thank you. Thank you for stepping up and empowering rescue in this case. Though our office in the States is small– composed only of a few staff, a handful of volunteers, and you– together we are sending out search and rescue teams into the darkest of places. There are brave men in the field who are bleeding out for the sake of rescue, and we are sending a message that they are not alone.
Thursday was a huge Win for Freedom, friends.
Thanks for celebrating it with us.
If you’d like to stay updated on future cases like this one, please subscribe to our newsletter or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter (@theexodusroad). We’ll be giving you front-row seats to future missions and raids, and we’d love to have you along. We just got word of another raid we are hoping to fuel within the month, and we’d love for you not to miss it.
What is The Exodus Road? Glad you asked. We are a coalition of investigators collaborating for the sake of rescue. Our stateside office provides funding for cases, some contract salaries to nationals, and quality surveillance gear for teams actively doing investigations into sexual slavery. We currently have teams in India and SE Asia. We have 26 investigators in our coalition and have supported the rescue, always with local authorities, of 114 victims of sexual slavery since July 2012. Our heartbeat is collaboration and empowerment. You can read more by checking out our faq page.