A car rental service owner from Siliguri, a town in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, saved a minor girl from being trafficked during the pandemic.
According to Jayanta Kr Singha — the car rental service owner — he received a call from a man on 28 June 2021, who wanted to hire his car service to get his sister dropped off at Bagdogra airport on 1 July 2021. The man claimed he lives in Jalandhar, Punjab, and his sister was coming to visit him. Singha readily agreed to offer his service, however, the flight was cancelled and rescheduled for 6 July 2021.
On the day of the flight (6 July 2021), Mr Singha drove to Belakoba, a small town in Jalpaiguri district, which was the pickup location given to him by the man. Upon arrival, he found that the man’s sister whom he was supposed to ferry to Bagdogra airport was a minor girl, travelling alone, without any luggage.
Singha claimed that the situation seemed suspicious to him, and he doubted if the young girl was related to the man, so he called back the man who had hired his service, to get further clarification. The man tried to allay his fears and reassure him that she was indeed his sister, and was coming to visit him in Punjab. He also gave Singha the number of a woman, who he claimed was the mother of the minor.
When Singha called the woman, she initially insisted that he dropped the girl off at Bagdogra airport, however, when she sensed that Singha was getting increasingly suspicious, she quickly offered him Rs 30,000 for the job. Singha understood that it was a case of woman trafficking, and intimated the police.
He also figured out who the real relatives of the young girl were, and handed her over to them, and returned the advance payment he had received from the man who had hired him. On 12 July 2021 Singha was felicitated by the Commissioner of Police, Siliguri for saving the young girl from being trafficked, despite being a common man.
On being felicitated, Mr Singha said, “As a citizen of this state I felt that this was my responsibility. Trafficking is a big menace and social problem. Moreover, I feel elated as police recognized my contribution.”
Siliguri, located at the entryway of the hills, has close proximity to Nepal and Bhutan borders, and is considered to be a hotbed for women and child trafficking. Especially with the tea gardens being shut in the Doars belt, there are many impoverished tribal families, who are vulnerable prey to sex traders. Therefore, vigilantes like Singha can help the administration immensely, and set an example for the common man.