NEW DELHI: A lawmaker in India’s beach state of Goa has been charged with buying, drugging and raping a 16-year-old girl in a case which will be closely watched by anti-slavery activists as the country moves to crackdown on human trafficking.
Atanasio Monserrate, an independent legislator in Goa’s assembly, was detained on Thursday after the teenager told police she was sold to him by her mother and another woman.
The former Goa education minister may be one of the first Indian lawmakers to be charged under recently enacted human trafficking legislation, said police on Friday.
“We have charged him with various offences. These include drugging, sexual assault of a minor and trafficking,” a police officer involved in the investigation told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Panaji, Goa’s capital.
“I don’t have the figures, but yes, this could be one of the first MLAs (Member of the Legislative Assembly) charged under Section 370 which deals with human trafficking.”
The crime branch officer, who did not wish to be named, said Monserrate, a former member of main opposition Congress Party, has denied the charges and says conspiracy against him has been hatched by his political opponents.
The girl, who is from St Cruz – the constituency which Monserrate represents – told police her mother sold her to work for him, but that he kept her confined, gave her drinks laced with drugs and raped her several times.
Police did not disclose the amount she was sold for, but local media reported the teenager had cited a figure of five million rupees ($75,000) in her statement to police.
Her mother has also been charged under the human trafficking law and is currently being questioned and a search is on for the second woman, said police. Reuters