Child prostitution: The dark side of Telangana's temple town

Raids have exposed Yadadri as hub of child trafficking

It was in the end July that a girl child’s scream and a concerned neighbour’s call to the child helpline lifted the lid on the gory saga of a child sex racket in the temple town of Yadadri. The eight-year old girl Manjula (name changed) who was coerced to witness sexual acts of adults during night time was forced to complete household chores during day. The tired girl was punished with a hot spatula for not obeying the commands of her pseudo mother Kamsani Kalyani.

Upon questioning by the police, Kalyani spilled beans that the girl was not her child but was procured from a pimp Kamsani Shankar and was groomed into the flesh trade. The lady further revealed that young girls are generally taught tricks of the trade at an early stage of their lives. After investigation, the police have sealed 22 houses and arrested 30 people, including several women, on August 2, 2018. The police slapped cases under IPC sections 370A, 371 and 366, relevant sections of POCSO Act and the PD Act. Police hope conviction of at least 10 accused under the PD Act (Preventive Detention Act).

A registered medical practitioner (RMP) Venkat Reddy in the vicinity helped the mothers to transform the girls into women by pumping hormones. The doctor also helped the trade by illegally terminating pregnancies. The Anuradha Maternity Clinic in Ganesh Nagar of Yadadri is now being sealed and the doctor has been arrested under sections 420, 419 of IPC, Section 26 of Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Section 15 of the Indian Medical Council Act 1956.

Many ampoules of Oxytocin, referred as love hormone, were found in the clinic located close to the Yadadri Hill. Oxytocin is a hormone and a neurotransmitter that is involved in childbirth and breast-feeding. It is also associated with empathy, trust, sexual activity, and relationship-building. It is said that the love hormone shoots in blood during hugging and orgasm.

A view of Yadadri Main Road.

What was happening in Yadadri, the most revered Vaishnavite temple town in Telangana just 70 km from state capital Hyderabad is just an offshoot of the flesh trade that is traditionally run by Dommara community, a scheduled tribe in Telangana. With the increasing footfall of clientele from Hyderabad and the nearby Hyderabad-Warangal highway, more young girls were needed, forcing the offenders to adopt ingenious ways to expand the trade.

While the streets where sex was sold expanded from Pathagutta to Ganesh Nagar and Angadi Bazaar the girls were now imported from almost all the neighboring states, mostly from Andhra Pradesh to fill the demand-supply gap. The Dommara community which was infamous for their age old practice then started purchasing young girls right from the age of five years or even less, by paying anywhere from Rs 1 lakh to the supplier and then putting them under training.

Many infants were also kidnapped from beggars sleeping on footpaths near railway stations and bus stands, making the procurement process much easier and cheaper. Nalgonda District Child Welfare Committee chairman K. Nimmaiah says that traffickers operate near isolated places and lure girls by offering chocolates and ice cream “We have seen in Nalgonda, Medak and Jagityal districts many poor parents were willing to one of their two to three daughters to the traffickers fearing the burden of getting them married,” he said. Nalgonda Child Welfare Committee members say that few years ago the seven girls were rescued by police with the initiative of the Bengaluru-based Justice and Care organization.

“The condition of the girls shows that they were forced into the trade at a very early stage of their life. One girl tested positive for HIV. While five girls were restored to their parents the seventh girl who will be 12 years old now and not a HIV patent , has been shifted to home for HIV children in Nalgonda,” says Nimmaiah.

Welfare officers associated with the 2 August raids say that many of the girls that they rescued are as young as five years old. They have been shifted to Prajwala a NGO and State welfare Homes. “Many of the rescued girls still believe that they are the biological children of their parents, where as it may not be true,” Yadadri Circle Inspector A.Narasimha Rao says. The bond between the rescued children and the women of the household baffled the police. Police have sent the blood samples of all the 34 girls that were rescued during the August raid and thereafter and the parents for DNA finger printing to confirm whether the girls were procured from elsewhere or not.

Police also had a problem in locating the real parents of the rescued girls as many of the claims turning into fake calls by brokers eager to grab a girl child ready for the trade. The DNA reports are almost ready and the police hope that they could now reach the next stage of their investigation by matching them with their real parents.

So far, two couples Marripally Krishna and Anuradha from ECIL in Kushaiguda here, Makkam Ishwaramma and Chinna Dibbaiah from Gobburu village of Peddaraveedu Mandal in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh, submitted identity proofs and FIR copies of the missing complaints to support their claims. With not many people coming forward to claim the missing girls the police believe that the girls might have been brought from places far way from here such as Bihar or West Bengal.

Naturalisation

Once the girls reach their destination, traffickers admit them in local Anganwadis in an effort to mingle them in the local society. Then in a process to naturalize them they enroll their names in the ration cards to make them look like family members.
“Many girls from these families were enrolled in local schools but they drop out very fast. May be they do it for the sake of a school certificate with the names of the factious parents on it just in case if they were caught by the authorities,” Chary who runs a tailor shop in Ganesh Nagar said. However people who live close to the houses that are sealed now, refused to open their mouth fearing attacks. Men of the household still keep a watch on anyone entering the streets from a distance and take note of any abnormal movement.

“Whenever the police or the child welfare officials raid these places they used to hide the girls in small pits carved behind the cots to escape arrest,” E Ramchandra Reddy the Deputy Commissioner of Police Bhongir, said. They are small structures where the girls could be kept for less than an hour. “Now the Divisional Revenue officer has sealed the houses and they were not opened since August,” he said.

The DCP points out that development of the temple by the government is attracting more pilgrims making the temple town open to all kinds of crimes. “The increase is around 20,000 pilgrims per day and the need for policing has doubled,” he said. He said that police can’t raid hotels and lodges where many couples come and stay for a day fearing backlash.

When DH visited these places banners in Telugu appeared informing the people that the Dommara community has stopped the flesh trade as per the police order in August and any one found soliciting will be handed over to police. With the police increasing patrolling in the known areas and keeping a watch with help of CC TV cameras in strategic locations a sense of fear has emerged in Yadadri. The police say that the brothels are closed now for good.

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Raids have exposed Yadadri as hub of child trafficking

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