Operation AAHT - RPF Operation Against Human Trafficking

A nationwide effort to combat human trafficking has been begun by the Railway Protection Force. Special teams would be posted on all long-hauling trains/routes as part of  “Operation AAHT,” with the goal of rescuing victims, mainly women and children, off the traffickers’ clutches. The railways, which run over 21,000 trains per day across the country, are the most reliable form of transportation for human traffickers, who frequently move their captives on long-distance trains.

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About Operation AAHT

The RPF’s (Railway Protection Force) infrastructure and intelligence network would be made use of as part of  “Operation AAHT” to collect, collate, and assess clues on victims, origin, path, destination, prominent trains in use by perpetrators, the identity of carriers/agents, crime lords, and other law-enforcement agencies, and then shared with other law-enforcement agencies. The RPF might serve as a link between states, assisting local police in their efforts to combat the threat. Cyber cells will begin monitoring the internet and social media for digital fingerprints of human trafficking, with an emphasis on trains departing from areas bordering Nepal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. 

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The Indian Railways, which hauled more than 23 million passengers per day before the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, is the largest, fastest, and most reliable transportation for perpetrators who trafficked a significant number of women and children. RPF personnel were stationed across India and were tasked with escorting trains to protect railway property and passengers.

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Significance

The operation is in line with giving effect to article 23 and article 24 of the Indian Constitution, which gives the right against exploitation. Human trafficking is prohibited, and forced labour or any act of forcing a person to work without pay while he is lawfully entitled to not work or receive payment for it is likewise prohibited under Article 23. It does, however, allow the government to enforce mandatory service for public objectives, such as community service. Parliament passed the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 1976 to give effect to this Article. Children under the age of 14 are not allowed to work in factories, mines, or other dangerous jobs, according to Article 24. The Child Labour (Prohibition and Control) Act, 1986, established legislation for the prohibition and regulation of child labour, as well as provisions for the rehab of erstwhile child labourers.

Article 23: Prohibition of traffic in human beings and forced labour.

Article 24: No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment.

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With an increase in the number of instances, the RPF, which rescued more than 2,000 women and children from the grips of traffickers during the years 2017 and 2021, stepped up the fight against human trafficking. Each year, the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) records approximately 2,200 occurrences of human trafficking. Human trafficking, particularly of women and children for sexual abuse, forced marriage, domestic slavery, organ transplantation, drug selling, and other forms of exploitation, is an organized crime and a heinous violation of human rights. Every day, tens of thousands of Indians and people from neighbouring countries are trafficked to areas where they are forced to live as slaves. They are also trafficked for the purposes of unlawful adoptions, organ transplants, circus labour, begging, and the entertainment business.

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