Home STATE CITY Despite raids, it’s ‘business as usual’ for sex trade in Odisha capital

Despite raids, it’s ‘business as usual’ for sex trade in Odisha capital

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Reported by Santosh Jagdev
Bhubaneswar, Aug 10:

While commissionerate police periodically pats itself on the back on ‘busting’ some ‘sex racket’, it has had no effect on the sex trade in Odisha’s capital city that has now moved into cyberspace.

A sex racket busted in Bhubaneswar
A sex racket busted in Bhubaneswar

‘Escort’ services are now on offer in the shape of a host of websites that stay off the radar even as the police conduct raids on the city hotels, lodges, spas, boutiques, massage parlours, Ayurvedic herbal centers and private apartments. The kingpins of the sleaze market are always a step ahead of the cops.

Surprisingly, despite tell-tale indications that much of the trade now takes place online, the commissionerate police have done precious little to zero in on the shadowy figures who run sex rackets in cyberspace.

In the two most recent cases, the police got concrete information that the girls had been booked online. The first of these was a ‘sex racket’ allegedly running out of a SUV parked near Crown Hotel in Nayapalli area here last week. The two customers managed to escape, but the pimp who was arrested revealed that they had booked the two girls, one each from Mizoram and West Bengal, online.

The very next day, the police busted yet another flesh trade racket, this time running out of an Ayurvedic massage parlour – Sai Herbal Spa Holistic Treatment in Baramunda under Khandagiri police limits. In this case too, the customers had booked the girls online.

Logically, this should have led to a crackdown on the online sex trade through escort services, social networking sites and chat services. But that has clearly not been the case as this correspondent found out.

Undeterred by the fear of any crackdown, sites like locanto.combhubaneswarescorts.com and http://adult.vivastreet.co.in/escorts+bhubaneswar run their business with impunity.

This correspondent contacted 3-4 pimps to know how they operate their business online and how they fix their locations and price.

When contacted on the mobile number 09853-20-2121 provided on Locanto.com, the points man Subham responded to every question asked by this correspondent, unhurriedly and nonchalantly. The pimp gave details of the girl’s profile, price list and the place to do ‘business’. He called the correspondent to Fortune Tower in the city for the deal.

Contacted a second time, the same voice responded in much the same manner. It was obvious that either the pimp was the same person or it was a group operating from one location in the city.

When the pimp does reply to calls from rank strangers, it is difficult to understand what prevents the police from identifying, locating and arresting those running the racket, with or without the use of a decoy

From the start of 2015 till date, 10-12 sex rackets have been ‘busted’ by the police in the city and as many as 26 women engaged in the sex rackets by the pimps rescued. But that is just the tip of the iceberg, if the volume of sex trade going on in cycberspace is anything to go by.

The police have arrested 32 persons, including the kingpins of sex rackets like Sunil Meher and his associates. Each time they are caught, they get bail and are back in ‘business’ in next to no time even as the police throw up their hands in despair.

When contacted, Twin City Commissioner of Police Dr RP Sharma said the police have taken some drastic steps to stop this unholy practice in the city. “We are looking into the matter. We will take appropriate steps to stop this trade after verifying IT laws and other legal provisions,” said Dr Sharma.

Mamata Samantaray, women’s right activists, said it is the duty of the Twin City police to slap right provisions of law against the pimps to prevent them from returning to the trade with ease and put an end to this unholy trade. “But the local police have failed to do so as they are used to getting huge monetary benefits from those who run the business,” she said.