11 women ‘escape’ from shelter

Inmates were from Mumbai's red light areas

Eleven inmates of a home for destitute women in Hooghly were found missing on Monday morning.

The inmates, aged between 25 and 35, were among 16 women who were brought here on November 23 after being arrested from red light areas in Mumbai. They reportedly escaped on Sunday night after breaking the iron window grill of their rooms in Destitute Home for Females, 7 Rajmohan Road, Uttarpara in Hooghly.

Three of the missing women are Bangladeshis. The others are from different districts of Bengal such as Nadia and North and South 24-Parganas.

"These women were rescued from red light areas of Mumbai. This is a juvenile home and not meant for adults. But these women had to be kept here because it was a court order. The court had asked some other women to be detained for proper identification. We have lodged a complaint with Uttarpara police station," said a senior employee of the home.

He added that some time ago, two girls had escaped from the home and one of them was later found and brought back.

SP Tanmoy Roy Chowdhury refused comment. Officials of Uttarpara police station said they had received a complaint about the missing women and were looking into it. "The women have escaped and we are trying to bring them back," said District Magistrate Manmeet Nanda. Questions have also been raised about the security at the home.

Meanwhile, Women and Social Welfare Minister Sabitri Mitra came to the defence of the home and said these women had their own kind of lifestyle, which they could not live without.

"These women have been brought from places like Mumbai and Gujarat. They are sent to Bengal if they can speak in Bengali. They could be Bangladeshis as well. More often than not, these women are kidnapped and forced into prostitution. The pimps often pose as their parents and come over to take these women, who willingly go with them. But we do not let them go if there is not enough proof," she said, and added that she had had a word with the SP about the case. "The police are checking all trains to intercept them," she said.

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