In a major breakthrough, Jharkhand police have arrested the mastermind of human trafficking in Jharkhand, Panna Lal Mahto from Khunti Tola on Thursday midnight. Mahto is accused of trafficking thousands of girls. He is alleged to have sold at least 5,000 children from Jharkhand, including tribal girls to employers in New Delhi, Haryana, and Punjab.
“We got a tip-off that Mahto was at the house of one Pakhnu Ganjhu in Khunti Tola. When we reached to raid the house, he tried to flee with his SUV car but we caught him,” Superintendent of Police Jaideep Lakra said.
Documents containing details about the money related to illegal land deals and human trafficking were also recovered from him.
“We recovered a yellow-coloured file containing details of the exchange of money related to human trafficking, a blue-coloured diary related to land deals, a white SUV, cheque books and ATM cards of different banks, non-judicial stamps, and other items from him,” Lakra added.
A case has been registered against Mahto under sections 371, 366 and 370 of the Indian Penal Code. “We will also counter his bail bond in the court so that he remains in the custody,” he added further.
17 cases are reportedly pending against him including seven cases in Khunti anti-human trafficking unit, three cases in Murhu police station, two cases in Torpa police station, and one case each in Jagannathpur, Kamdara, Gumla, and Sultanpuri (New Delhi). A title suit is also pending against him.
An FIR was lodged against Mahto by Child Welfare Committee (CWC) at anti-human trafficking unit (AHTU), Khunti. Baidyanath Kumar, a member of CWC, said the case was lodged in 2018 for his involvement in the trafficking of a minor girl from a Khunti block.
“The girl was trafficked to Delhi last year. She was rescued by the Delhi police, who handed her over to Delhi CWC. The girl was, thereafter, brought to Khunti CWC where her statement was recorded,” Kumar said.
Mahto and his wife Sunita Kumari was earlier arrested in October 2014 on the charges of human trafficking. He has been on bail since September 2016. According to the police, Mahto was also arrested in 2004 and 2006 for other cases including human trafficking.