TikTok gatherings used as source of girls to be trafficked for sex slavery
A Bangladeshi teenage girl has filed a case with Dhaka's Hatirjheel police station against 12 people of a trafficking gang. She returned home 77 days after being trafficked to India, where she had been subjected to inhuman torture.
While investigating the case, the police found that five of the accused were staying in the country and arrested three of them from the Satkhira border area on Tuesday.
The trio are also linked to Rifadul ul Islam alias TikTok Hridoy, who was arrested in India recently. They have trafficked over 1,500 women and girls to the neighboring country in the past, according to Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police's Tejgaon Division Mohammad Shahidullah.
The law enforcers have intensified drives against human traffickers in Bangladesh after the Indian media reported the torture of a Bangladeshi woman at the hands of five traffickers on May 27. The Indian police arrested the five traffickers the following day.
One of the five arrestees is Hridoy, who used to arrange gatherings of TikTok members to fish for his victims and hand them over to the ring members in the border areas for sending to India, where they would be pushed into sex slavery.
The father of the woman filed a case with Hatirjheel police on May 27 after he learnt about his daughter’s ordeals, accusing Hridoy and several others of trafficking her.
The teenager, who filed the case on Tuesday night under the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act 2012, told the police that she had been introduced to Hridoy at Madhubagh Bridge in Hatirjheel in 2019.
“We are considering TikTok as a negative media,” DC Shahidullah said.
The way they work
Hridoy tried to lure her in the name of making her a star on the social media platform, popular among teenagers and youths, or by offering her a highly-paid job.
He organized a “TikTok Hangout '' with 70-80 people at Adventure Land Park in Narayanganj in February last year and arranged a pool party with 700-800 young individuals at Afrin Garden Resort in Gazipur in September.
The three criminals arrested on Tuesday are Mehedi Hasan Babu, Abdul Quader and his son Mohiuddin. Police seized two motorcycles, a diary, four mobile phones and an Indian SIM card from their possession.
Hridoy, with the help of the ring members in Satkhira, trafficked the teenager to India after they participated in a TikTok hangout at Lalon Shah Mazar in Kushtia on February 19 this year, according to DC Shahidullah.
In India, the girl was kept in several houses in Anandapur of Bangaluru, where she met some other young women, including the woman from the Hatirjheel area.
After a few days, the teenager was sent to OYO Hotel in Chennai. She was subjected to inhuman physical and perverted sexual abuse for 10 days. The ring members applied sedatives on her and forced her to send nude pictures to her family members.
She finally managed to escape from captivity along with two other Bangladeshi women with the help of the woman from Hatirjheel and returned to Bangladesh after 77 days, police say.
They trafficked over 1,500 women
One of the trio arrested on Tuesday, Mehedi Hasan Babu, had been involved in human trafficking for about 6-7 years. He admitted that he had trafficked more than 1,000 women, including the survivor in this case, DC Shahidullah said.
Another accused admitted to having trafficked over 500 women in the last couple of years.
The Indian mobile numbers of Hridoy, Sagar, Sabuj, Dalim and Rubel were found in the mobiles and the diary seized from Mehedi.
The ‘Aadhaar’ card number of the tortured woman in Bangaluru and the names of a significant number of victims trafficked to India as well as the “details” of the people involved in human trafficking were found, according to the official.
They did not have valid documents to travel to India. “After entering India, they used to acquire ‘Aadhar’ cards, using which they could easily roam around as Indian citizens. We are investigating how they crossed the border,” DC Shahidullah added.