Joining us today on the World Day against Human trafficking is Shri Kamal Saksena, IPS presently posted as Director General, (Vigilance) , Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited Shri Saksena earlier served as Secretary (Home) of Uttar Pradesh from 2012 to 2017. During his tenure as Secretary (Home) he led several initiatives to combat human trafficking in Uttar Pradesh.
As a part of our effort to combat Human Trafficking, we are trying to put a spotlight on individuals who contributed in identifying, supporting and counselling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking and continues to challenge the impunity of traffickers. There are several people across India who continue to contribute their time and energy to combat crime against humanity, which include public officers, law enforcement authority, civil society, child protection officials, journalists, lawyers, medical professionals, and mental health experts. Sir can you please share your experience as a police officer on fighting human trafficking?
Kamal Saksena: It is good to admit that during our training period and as an in charge of district for regular policing and zones, Human Trafficking somehow failed to find a priority which it should have and therefore my experience is largely for as a sectary home, during which I was exposed to the disaster where due to a lot of damage, people were migrated to Himalayan ranges. It was then that we realized that human trafficking used to take place around the border of Nepal. After my first exposure, I realized what a serious crime it is and it should be given top priority by all law enforcement agencies and stakeholders. The issue with this type of crime is that a lot of time there is a lack of awareness among the stakeholders. At the same time the criminals are very well organized and the victim himself/herself or their parents did not know that a crime has already taken place. It is a continuous crime. So during that time, we sensitized the districts around the Nepal border, did video conferencing, we put up play cards at the transit point to make people aware to beware of traffickers and human trafficking. We have rescued a lot of victims and also arrested a lot of traffickers as well. Along with that, through video conferencing, we had also been taking updates from the district administration and police, regarding the current scenario of human trafficking. Through my experience, I have noticed that human trafficking is a kind of crime, whose responsibilities are shared among several stakeholders but to hand hold and collectively take care of the situation. I could witness the convergence happening, which was a very satisfying experience. From there we could see, in which district who was caught and using this what all measures could be taken in other districts, so that was a very good experience, definitely a big learning experience for me.
Can you elaborate more on India’s response to combating human trafficking because trafficking is an organized crime and connects source and destination at some point and there is also transit point. It might appear very tough and difficult. So how do you think can the police strengthen the inter-state responsibility? Also, since you were in the destination state and also the source state of the crime, Uttar Pradesh, it would be tough for lower police officials to understand the whole scenario. So, in which way India can respond from the perspective of the police?
Kamal Saksena: As a country in response to heinous crime of Human Trafficking, it requires a more concentrated effort, more organized effort from the officers at the grass root level. All the officers must be given more dedicated input on human trafficking, with proper examinations and with training in every 2-3 months with latest laws and latest rulings of the court. It is not only restricted to the police but all the stakeholders as well, be it lawyers or judiciary or probation officers because this is a crime which is happening within the society, not only by identified criminals but by opportunists who are exploiting the disparity in the society, be it economy, employment etc or some kind of kind disaster taking place, be it man-made or natural disaster, be it poverty or shelter home are exploited by these people. Also, the market is very high, we can talk about the topics that Article 23 covers, i.e beggary and forced labour. But forced labour got defined as early as in 1982 and today beggary is punished. But while talking about human trafficking, we talk about prostitution, beggary, forced labour and many other forms of exploitation. It is a million-dollar industry today. There is also medical human trafficking where they are using humans as trials for organ transplantation etc. Somehow, for different stakeholders, their training pattern, the execution of their enforcement, the coordination between agencies, are not as they should be. They lack a lot of coherence; they lack a lot of hand-holding. We need to put our efforts together, our resources together, and with the help of NGOs, the judiciary, the police we must keep evolving our methodology. It should never get saturated. It is true that Uttar Pradesh is the destination, the source areas for trafficking and also the transit point. We have a very huge population and therefore people are more likely to get lost. Its high time that we need to make a note of this and we need to be more aggressive, organized and more trained. We should start an awareness campaign and draw a coordinated hand holding from district to district stakeholders.
You spoke about more aggressive approach, more interstate cooperation which is why we have brought Article 23 dialogue with the help of which we are trying to reach people who are working at the grass root level fighting human trafficking. There are a lot of social workers are working towards combating the crime. Therefore, we should be working collectively. Sir, how can we strengthen the law enforcement system especially when an advisory was issued by the home ministry, where they have specified on the training of the police officers? Do you think the training sessions support the police officers or does it help in making the collaboration strong among the stakeholders? Why do you think training is important? Since during the Nepal earthquake you gave a lot of importance to training because of which a lot of traffickers were arrested and we could also notice strengthening of police at that point.
Kamal Saksena: This is very true. At that time, we could train more than 6000 district stakeholders including police, judiciary, probation officers, lawyers, NGOs. There were all with us. We also had a strong resource person because of which we could train the people and sensitize them on the issue of human trafficking. Training is a very essential input and can find a regular pattern and emphasize on IPC, CRPC, which is mandatory. It is important to teach these stakeholders about these subjects with all seriousness. Training should be repeated in every two or three month and within these two-three months of different batches, we should ensure covering all the members of that particular service. Once that is done then each member should have the opportunity to visit the training centers. Meanwhile, the data that is developed because of the pattern of trend of human trafficking, the international laws, these should always be thrown open to make it very vibrant and to initiate day to day interaction. Therefore, the trainings should be regular, repeated and for 300 persons. It should be supplemented with the campaign in the society. Repeated and Regular, through so many mediums. We have FM, Television, newspaper and all. We should make an effort that apart from the stakeholders and the NGOs, the civil society at a larger scale should be sensitized on such issues, and they should join hands in prioritizing such crimes. These things when put together will go a very long way. At the same time, I realize that all the stakeholders, may not have the same level of clarity and commitment because of other issues and because of other responsibilities. The operation of the AHTU’s should be reintegrated again and again by the officers in charge and should ensure that they are always functional. We need a systematic approach.
For some time you were in UP’s WCD Department and brought a lot of changes during that time with respect to training and strengthening of child protection mechanism. You notice a lot of loopholes and brought changes accordingly. What changes did you bring because of which it was so successful?
Mr. Kamal Saksena: During the time I was in Women and Child Development, we took into consideration the JJ Act Rules. We noticed that in those rules, the child protection agencies at the district level were not formalized. It was an effort to create child protection units at district level. We sensitized the DM’s and the commissioners by conducting conferences at the state level. That was a big success because many of them openly admitted that they were not aware of the heinous crimes taking place and it was high time to put dedicated time to these issues pertaining to children, women and human trafficking. We could sensitize people at the rural level and ground level officers. We could reach out to many government agencies. We ensured to take meetings in every three months to monitor the changes that were taking place.
Right now we are fighting through this COVID Crisis because of which vulnerabilities have increased and people are losing their jobs. Poverty is growing at the source and destination areas. As a police officer in what way can we work with police, what mechanism can we follow to protect such vulnerable communities?
Mr. Kamal Saksena: Human Trafficking in itself is a crime which is also as a result of societies situation or scenarios, like unemployment, poverty, lack of opportunities. These are the factors that push youngsters or the families to migrate from one location to another. COVID-19 has made things very difficult as it has also impacted the economy of the country. Similarly, reverse migration is also taking place because of which the source areas have started drying up. Talking about trafficking during COVID, certain patterns has emerged, for example: in Uttar Pradesh Moradabad few traffickers were pinned down. From Jharkhand the stopover was Bijnor. From Nepal the stopover was Varanasi. The NCR region was flooded with trafficked victims from Uttarakhand. We have certain areas from where boys and girls were picked up. These were the areas of focus primarily; the local administration and government should create a security net and should activate any census within the age of vulnerable age or person could be highlighted. Those areas which has proven that people have been working over there systematically to lure boys and girls to flesh trade and prostitution and promising employment, we should focus on them and develop a methodology accordingly. At the same time, we should also take measures that we have arranged. These areas should be given more priorities in helping people out. There are so many dimensions that have grown, which should be given a priority.
Finally your comment to the youth of this country? How can we unite as a civil society person to assist and strengthen the police and help in fighting the organized crime?
Mr. Kamal Saksena: Each and every youth in this country should know what it takes to be civilized. It is the most inhuman form of crime that takes place. We call ourselves civilized. It is a responsibility to wear the burden of fighting the crime of trafficking. We must be aware of this crime and knowingly and unknowingly should not be beneficiary to this crime. It is a matter of belonginess and shouldering the responsibility.