24 years jail time for known sex trafficker Sonu Punjaban
Sonu Punjaban, an infamous name in flesh trade, was on Wednesday handed 24 years in prison. Announcing the verdict, in the case pertaining to the prostitution of a minor, a Delhi court noted Punjaban was unworthy of living in a civil society. Though Punjaban has been in and out of jails for years, she could be behind bars for good this time. Here's her story.
Originally, Geeta Arora, Punjaban was introduced to the world of crime after she married gangster, Vijay Singh. Soon after their wedding, Singh was gunned down by a Special Task Force (STF) of Uttar Pradesh Police. She then got involved with another criminal, Deepak, who was also shot in Assam. Thereafter, Deepak's brother Hemant Sonu lent Punjaban a "helping hand." He was killed in 2006.
After Hemant Sonu's death, Punjaban picked up "Sonu" from his name and grew in ranks in the crime world, becoming the kingpin of one of the biggest sex rackets in NCR. Her clientele included influential businessmen, and her employees were "aspiring actresses and models." She had tasked her henchmen with escorting the girls to Mumbai, Rajasthan, Kolkata, and Punjab.
Throughout her chequered criminal career, Punjaban has been arrested and released several times. In 2007, she was picked up from Preet Vihar under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act. She was arrested in 2008 and 2011 on similar charges. The current case which helped police close in on Punjaban pertained to the trafficking and rape of a minor. The victim's ordeal started in 2009.
As per reports, the victim, became friends with one Sandeep Bedwal when she was 12. Under the pretext of marriage, he raped her and then sold her to someone called Seema. Seema forced the girl into prostitution and gave drugs to her, police said. The victim was traded various times and was once sold to Punjaban. Punjaban exploited her for business for years.
After being trafficked several times, the victim escaped from the clutches of a man who "married" her. Subsequently, a probe was launched. Years later, she got justice as Additional Sessions Judge Pritam Singh ordered Punjaban to pay Rs. 64,000. She was given two sentences — 14 years for charges under Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act and 10 years for offenses under various sections of IPC.
In the order, Singh noted that the convict brutalized the victim for years. "The shameful deeds of Sonu Punjaban deprives her of any leniency from the courts. A person who does such horrific and terrible acts has no right to live in a civilized society," the court said. He also ordered a compensation of Rs. 7 lakh for the victim.
"She (Punjaban) applied chilly powder on the breast of the girl and also put it into her mouth in order to create fear in her mind that she should act as per her wishes otherwise be ready to face brutality," the court added.
Claiming that a woman's modesty is "next to her soul," the court asked, "How a woman can outrage and brutalize the modesty of another woman, who is minor, in such a horrific way." At an age when girls study, play, and enjoy parents' protection, the victim was traumatized, added Singh. The court also sentenced Bedwal to 20 years in prison.