The incident took back in 1996 when the Maharashtra police rescued 456 women in a raid conducted at Kamathipura, a famous known red light area, at Grant Road (East), Maharashtra. Among those 456 women, 128 were from Nepal, the state which tops the list in sex trafficking operations in South Asia. The survivors of sex trafficking were between the ages of 14 and 30. The Nepal Government denied taking the victims back to the state as they didn’t have legal papers like birth certificates and citizenship proof. When all were trying to find ways to send those innocents back to Kathmandu, Bollywood actor Mr. Sunil Shetty stepped forward like a real hero from a reel hero and decided to take the situation into his hands. He helped to arrange a flight and paid for the tickets of those women and ensured that they reach home safely.
Anna(Sunil) gave the credits to Mumbai police and his mother in law, Vipula Kadri, founder of ‘Save the Children’ organization. Being concerned about the future of those 128 women, Mr. Sunil Veerappa Shetty chose to keep silent about the situation and was adamant to keep the media out of the loop.
The story was finally revealed after 24 years by Charimaya Tamang, one of the victims, who was rescued in the operation. Charimaya stated, “When the government was confused as to how to go about the operation, it was India’s film hero, Sunil Shetty who supported us,” in the Vice India documentary.
Charimaya Tamang now is the founder of the Shakti Samuha, an NGO based in Nepal. The organization was started with 15 women who were among the survivors of the untold incident. They work against sex trafficking and is the rehabilitation of the survivors. The number of members is now over 135. Shakti Samuha received worldwide recognition and won the Ramon Magsaysay Award in 2013.
In his recent interview, Shetty said, “We didn’t want to glorify ourselves and we didn’t want to put the girls at risk, especially with the mafia involved in this case.” He also said that he was not just the one who had participated in this mission. He thanked his mother-in-law’s NGO that helped children, Naresh Goyal’s Jet Airways, Mumbai Police, and the Sh iv Sena government at that time who all played a vital role.