He shut down 25 brothels, five hotels and 20 residential apartments and rescued 350 children from brick kilns.
Telangana IPS Officer Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat, who currently serves as the first Commissioner of Police of Rachakonda, has been conferred the 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Heroes Award by the US state department.
Every year, the U.S. Department of State under the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons honours individuals around the world who dedicate their lives to fight human trafficking.
These heroes include individuals working for NGOs, lawmakers, police officers, and concerned citizens who are fighting tirelessly to end this form of cruel modern slavery.
IPS Officer Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat has demonstrated remarkable commitment to the fight against human trafficking for the last 13 years in Telangana state. He is the third IPS officer to get the honour.
The report hailed his participation in anti-trafficking operations that have not only removed hundreds of victims from situations of trafficking, but also ensured their placement in support programs with the help of other government departments and civil society organizations.
“Mr. Bhagwat’s dedication to the fight against human trafficking is exemplified by his innovative and highly effective approach to investigating cases and his success in dismantling trafficking operations within his command areas,” the report said.
Bhagwat pioneered the use of legal provisions to close sites where human trafficking is known to occur across the state. Under his expertise, Rachakonda police closed 25 brothels—five hotels and 20 residential apartments—in less than a year. They also participated in one of the largest crackdowns on labour trafficking in the country, which led to the identification and removal of more than 350 children forced to work in brick kilns.
Reacting to the conferment of the award, Bhagwat, in an interview with PTI, said, “I am delighted to hear the announcement and would like to view it as recognition of the work the Telangana government and the police are doing to combat trafficking in persons for sex and labour.”
In addition to being a central figure in trafficking deterrence efforts, Mr. Bhagwat also constantly pushes for human trafficking to be a top priority for the Telangana state of India.
The other seven individuals from around the world conferred with the honour include Alika Kinan, the first survivor of human trafficking in Argentina, Leonardo Sakamoto, a Brazilian journalist, Vanaja Jasphine, Coordinator of the Kumbo Diocesan Commission for Justice and Peace in the Northwest Region of Cameroon, Viktoria Sebhelyi, a Hungarian sociologist and human rights activist, Amina Oufroukhi, a judge within the Moroccan Ministry of Justice’s Directorate of Criminal Affairs and Pardons, Allison Lee, Co-founder and the Secretary General of the Yilan Migrant Fishermen Union and Boom Mosby, Founder and Director of the HUG Project.
To have a look at current and past Trafficking in Persons Report Heroes, including how to connect with them, please visit the Trafficking in Persons Report Heroes Global Network at www.tipheroes.org.
You can also connect to IPS Officer Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat here.