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Cablegate: W. Bengal's New Anti-Trafficking Head Outlines Plans for The

PAAUZYUW RUEHCIA0251 2331250-UUUU--RHMCSUU.
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 211250Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL KOLKATA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD
RUEHLH/AMCONSUL LAHORE
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUEFHLC/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHC/USAID WASHDC
GENEVA IO MISSIONS COLLECTIVE
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KOLKATA 000251

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR G/TIP - MLAGON, MTAYLOR, JSIGMON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM KWMN PHUM ELAB SOCI IN NP BG
SUBJECT: W. BENGAL'S NEW ANTI-TRAFFICKING HEAD OUTLINES PLANS FOR THE
STATE

REF: KOLKATA 00195

KOLKATA 00000251 001.5 OF 003


1. (U) SUMMARY: ON AUGUST 6 POLOFF SPOKE AT LENGTH WITH
NEWLY-APPOINTED WEST BENGAL DEPUTY INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE
(SPECIAL CELL) SANJOY MUKHERJEE. MUKHERJEE WILL RUN THE
RECENTLY-CREATED ANTI-HUMAN TRAFFICKING UNIT (AHTU) IN W.
BENGAL. DURING THE MEETING, MUKHERJEE EXPLAINED IN DETAIL THE
OPERATIONS OF THE AHTU, HIS APPROACH TO COMBAT TRAFFICKING IN
THE STATE, AND THE CHALLENGES HE FORESEES FOR THE COMING YEAR.
HOWEVER, LACK OF ADMINISTRATIVE AND JUDICIAL CAPACITY TO
PROSECUTE CASES REMAINS A MAJOR HURDLE AND COULD UNDERMINE THE
INCREASED POLICE EFFORTS. NGOS IN W. BENGAL CONCUR, BUT SO FAR
APPRECIATE THE RENEWED COMMITMENT OF THE W. BENGAL POLICE TO
FIGHT TRAFFICKING. END SUMMARY

2. (U) ON JUNE 28, THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DEPARTMENT IN
WEST BENGAL LAUNCHED THE STATE'S FIRST AHTU IN KOLKATA AND
ASSIGNED DEPUTY INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE (SPECIAL CELL)
SANJOY MUKHERJEE TO MANAGE THE UNIT (REFTEL). AN IPS OFFICER
WHO TAKES A METHODICAL APPROACH TO POLICING, MUKHERJEE RECENTLY
SPOKE TO POLOFF ABOUT THE POTENTIAL FOR SUCCESS OF THE W. BENGAL
AHTU AS WELL AS THE OBSTACLES HE FACED IN COMBATING TRAFFICKING
IN PERSONS.

3. (SBU) IN MUKHERJEE'S OPINION, AWARENESS AND ANTI-TIP
RESPONSE WAS INCREASING. HE ATTRIBUTED THIS IN PART TO
INCREASED MEDIA ATTENTION TO THE TIP PROBLEM. MUKHERJEE FURTHER
FELT THAT AS FAR AS W. BENGAL WAS CONCERNED, ALTHOUGH TIP IS A
STATEWIDE PROBLEM, THE AHTU'S EFFORTS SHOULD FOCUS ON CERTAIN
KEY POCKETS IN THE STATE, INCLUDING BERHAMPORE/MURSHIDABAD
(LOCATED 250 KM NORTH OF KOLKATA NEAR THE INDO-BANGLADESH
BORDER), SILIGURI (THE MAJOR JUNCTION WHERE PEOPLE AND GOODS
TRAVEL BETWEEN INDIAS NORTHEAST STATES, "MAINLAND" INDIA,
NEPAL, AND BANGLADESH), AND THE CITY OF KOLKATA ITSELF.

4. (SBU) IN THE EAST, SAID MUKHERJEE, TIP EXISTED FOR THE
PURPOSES OF FACILITATING CHILD MARRIAGES/BRIDES, PROVIDING GIRLS
AND YOUNG BOYS FOR DANCE SHOWS IN BIHAR AND UTTAR PRADESH, A
SMALLER NUMBER OF INDIVIDUAL WOMEN WHO ACTIVELY SOUGHT TO ENGAGE
IN PROSTITUTION, WOMEN SEEKING OR PERSUADED TO LEAVE
DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES, AND WOMEN WHO ARE TOLD BY "TOUTS" POSING
AS BOYFRIENDS THAT THEY SHOULD MOVE TO BE WITH THEIR BOYFRIEND
"FOR LOVE." IN THE CASE OF BRIDES FROM W. BENGAL, MUKHERJEE
NOTED THAT THERE WAS A TREND TO SEND GIRLS TO PUNJAB AND
HARYANA, WHERE THERE IS A SUPPOSED GENDER IMBALANCE OF GIRLS TO
BOYS OWING TO A HISTORICAL PATTERN OF FEMALE INFANTICIDE.
MUSLIM GIRLS ARE FREQUENTLY SENT TO JAMMU AND KASHMIR, HE ADDED.
(COMMENT: MUKHERJEE AVOIDED DISCUSSION OF SONAGAACHI, THE MAJOR
RED-LIGHT DISTRICT IN KOLKATA, WHERE SEX SLAVERY AND FORCED
PROSTITUTION IS THE NORM. THIS MAY BE DUE TO HIS AWARENESS OF
POLITICAL SENSITIVITIES WITH THE LOCAL SEX WORKER'S UNION, OR
BECAUSE THE RED-LIGHT DISTRICT IS WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF THE
KOLKATA POLICE. END COMMENT.)

AHTU'S APPROACH
---------------

5. (SBU) AT THE POLICE STATIONS, MUKHERJEE'S TEAM IS
EMPHASIZING THAT MISSING PERSONS' REPORTS, WHICH ARE OFTEN THE
FIRST REPORTS FILED BY CITIZENS REGARDING TRAFFICKED VICTIMS,
MUST BE TAKEN AS A PRIORITY. THE AHTU HAS LAID OUT A 4-PRONGED
STRATEGY FOR INCREASING POLICE CAPABILITY:

-- CONTINUING TO SENSITIZE POLICE OFFICERS TO THE MAGNITUDE AND
GRAVITY OF THE TIP PROBLEM.

-- EMPOWERING THE POLICE, BY MEANS OF A MONTHLY 2-DAY COURSE, ON
THE EXISTING LAWS. THIS INVOLVES EXPLANATION OF THE DIFFERENCES
BETWEEN THE IMMORAL TRAFFICKING PREVENTION ACT (ITPA) AND THE
INDIAN PENAL CODE (IPC).

-- BRINGING STAKEHOLDERS TOGETHER IN THE PROCESS, SUCH AS NGOS
AND LOCAL COMMUNITY LEADERS, PARTICULARLY IN THE BORDER AREAS.
B T
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KOLKATA 00000251 002.6 OF 003

MUKHERJEE EMPHASIZED THAT HE VIEWED THE AHTU AS A WAY OF TAKING
ON DIFFICULT CASES TO ARREST "BIGGER" TRAFFICKERS. THIS
INVOLVES FOCUSING ON OBTAINING GOOD, RELIABLE EVIDENCE AGAINST
TRAFFICKERS AND RESCUING AS MANY CHILD VICTIMS AS POSSIBLE IN
PARTICULAR.

CHALLENGES
----------

6. (SBU) POLOFF ASKED MUKHERJEE TO OUTLINE WHAT HE FELT WERE
THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES TO SUCCESS OF THE W. BENGAL AHTU.
PRIMARILY, SAID MUKHERJEE, THE POLICE ARE SUFFERING FROM A
SEVERE MANPOWER SHORTAGE, PARTICULARLY AT THE SUB-INSPECTOR
LEVEL, AND THE AHTU LACKS A DEPUTY HEAD OF DEPARTMENT AT THE
MOMENT. (NOTE: THIS POSITION IS EXPECTED TO BE FILLED IN 6-8
MONTHS. END NOTE.)

7. (SBU) SIGNIFICANTLY, IN MUKHERJEE'S VIEW THE REMAINING
HURDLES ARE WITH THE COURT SYSTEM. DESCRIBING PROSECUTORS AS
"TOTALLY UNDERPAID, UNSENSITIZED, AND OFTEN CORRUPT," MUKHERJEE
COMPLAINED THAT HE SPENT MORE TIME ASSISTING IN THE PROSECUTION
OF CASES THAN ON INVESTIGATING NEW ONES. OFTEN HE WOULD TRY TO
FAST TRACK CASES BY CALLING IN PERSONAL FAVORS, OTHERWISE CASES
WOULD NOT GO FORWARD. COMPOUNDING THE DIFFICULTY IS THE EQUALLY
UNSCHOOLED JUDICIARY. MUKHERJEE FELT THAT MOST JUDGES REMAINED
WOEFULLY IGNORANT OF THE LAWS AND THE CONCEPT OF VICTIM'S RIGHTS
AND PROPER TREATMENT. (NOTE: IN A SEPARATE CONVERSATION WITH
DIRECTOR OF NGO SANLAAP INDRANI SINHA, WHOSE NGO RESCUES AND
REHABILITATES TRAFFICKED CHILDREN, SINHA ECHOED MUKHERJEE'S
ASSESSMENT OF THE JUDICIARY. SHE WAS ABLE TO NAME ONLY SEVEN
JUDGES IN THE ENTIRE STATE WHO IN HER OPINION UNDERSTOOD THE
COMPLEXITY AND NATURE OF TIP CASES. END NOTE.)

WHAT THE NGOS SAY
-----------------

8. (SBU) POLOFF SPOKE WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF VARIOUS NGOS
OPERATING IN KOLKATA TO GET THEIR INITIAL VIEWS ON THE AHTU'S
OPERATIONS SO FAR. ALL WERE EXTREMELY POSITIVE ABOUT MUKHERJEE
AND THE AHTU, FINDING HIM RESPONSIVE AND INTERESTED IN SERIOUSLY
COMBATING TIP. SANLAAP'S INDRANI SINHA CREDITED THE UNODC
TRAINING AS WELL, SAYING THAT THE POLICE "NO LONGER NEED TO BE
PUSHED," AND THAT THEY WERE RECEIVING GREATER COOPERATION FROM
THE POLICE ON LOCATING AND IDENTIFYING TARGET AREAS FOR RESCUE
OPERATIONS.

9. (SBU) INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE MISSION, APNE AAP, AND SANLAAP
NGO LEADERS ALL AGREED, HOWEVER, THAT THE CREATION OF THE AHTU
HAS PUT INTO STARK RELIEF THE HUGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE W.
BENGAL POLICE AND THE KOLKATA POLICE. THE W. BENGAL POLICE WERE
MUCH MORE RECEPTIVE TO WORKING WITH THE NGOS, WHEREAS THE
KOLKATA POLICE HAD MADE IT CLEAR THAT FIGHTING TIP WAS NOT ON
THE TOP OF THEIR AGENDA (NOTE: POLOFF WAS TOLD TWICE FROM OTHER
SOURCES THAT KOLKATAS POLICE COMMISSIONER HAS STATED ON RECORD
THAT OTHER CRIMES SUCH AS MURDER, RAPE, AND KIDNAPPING WERE
HIGHER PRIORITIES THAN TIP, GIVEN EXISTING RESOURCES. END
NOTE.) THE NGOS ALSO IDENTIFIED POTENTIAL BOTTLENECKS TO
SUCCESSFUL PROSECUTION OF TIP CASES BEING CAUSED BY THE DEARTH
OF ADEQUATELY TRAINED PUBLIC PROSECUTORS AND AN UNSENSITIZED
JUDICIARY.

10. (SBU) COMMENT: A GREATER COMMITMENT AMONG NGOS AND THE
LEADERSHIP OF THE W. BENGAL AHTU TO COMBAT TRAFFICKING IS A
POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT. AS EVIDENCED BY OUR INTERACTION, AHTU
LEADERSHIP APPEARS TO BE WELL-ORGANIZED AND NOT LACKING FOR
IDEAS (PERHAPS MUKHERJEE'S BACKGROUND AS AN MBA GRADUATE FROM
IIM CALCUTTA PLAYS A ROLE IN THIS REGARD). THE ONLY DISCORDANT
NOTE FROM OUR MEETINGS WAS THE WORRY OVER PROSECUTORIAL AND
JUDICIAL CAPABILITIES TO SECURE CONVICTIONS IN A TIMELY FASHION.
IF CASES DO GET BACKLOGGED AND THE POLICE DO NOT SEE
DEMONSTRABLE RESULTS FROM THEIR EFFORTS, EVEN MUKHERJEE ADMITS
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KOLKATA 00000251 003.6 OF 003


THAT MORALE WILL BE DAMAGED AND THE INCENTIVE TO INVESTIGATE
CASES WILL BE UNDERMINED. IN ADDITION TO IMPROVING THE CAPACITY
OF PROSECUTORS AND JUDGES SOME CONVICTIONS, PREFERABLY IN
HIGH-PROFILE CASES, WILL BE NECESSARY OVER THE NEXT YEAR TO KEEP
THE GAINS FROM BEING LOST.
JARDINE
B T
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