Hyderabad: The U.S. Department of State is pleased to honor Mr. Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat, I.P.S., Commissioner of Police, Rachakonda in Telangana State, as a 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report Hero.
At the release of 2017 TIP Report in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, June 27, Mr. Bhagwat was recognized for his dynamic leadership as the first police commissioner of the Rachakonda Commissionerate in India, his vital role in elevating human trafficking as a government priority, and his innovative approach to investigating cases and dismantling trafficking operations.”
While he was not able to attend the event in person, Mr. Bhagwat joins seven other individuals from around the world who were recognized for their tireless efforts despite resistance, opposition, and threats to their lives – to protect victims, punish offenders, and raise awareness of ongoing criminal practices in their countries and abroad. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Ambassador-at-Large for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons Susan Coppedge, and Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump delivered remarks and recognized this year’s TIP Heroes.
“I am delighted to hear the announcement and would like to view it as recognition of the work the Government of Telangana and the police are doing to combat trafficking in persons for sex and labor,” Mr. Bhagwat stated.
The previous Indian recipients of the award include Amod Kanth (2005), Kari Siddamma (2006), Kailash Satyarthi (2007), Sunitha Krishnan (2009), Sattaru Umapathi (2010), Swati Chauhan (2011), and Bhanuja Sharan Lal (2014).
Mr. Mahesh Muralidhar Bhagwat, who currently serves as the first Commissioner of Police of Rachakonda, a police commissionerate in India’s Telangana state that covers more than four million residents, has demonstrated remarkable commitment to the fight against organized human trafficking for the last 13 years. He has participated in anti-trafficking operations that have removed hundreds of victims from situations of trafficking and, with the help of other government departments and civil society organizations, has ensured their placement in rehabilitation programs.
Mr. Bhagwat’s dedication to the fight against human trafficking is further demonstrated by his innovative and highly effective approach to investigating cases and his success in dismantling trafficking operations within his command areas. He has pioneered the use of legal provisions to close sites where trafficking is known to occur. Under his command, Rachakonda police closed 25 brothels—five hotels and 20 residential apartments— in less than a year and participated in one of the largest crackdowns on labor trafficking in the country, which led to the identification and removal of more than 350 children forced to work in brick kilns.
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.