Top cop is landlord of illegal wine shop too!

DCP Nandkumar Chougule doesn’t just own the premises which hosted a sex spa, but has rented out another of his plots to a wine seller, which has been slapped a BMC notice for illegal constructions

Two days after MiD DAY exposed that a prostitution racket was flourishing within a spa in a bungalow owned by DCP Nandkumar Chougule, fresh controversy surrounding the senior cop is brewing again. Investigations conducted by a MiD DAY correspondent into Chougule’s assets have revealed some even more shocking facts.

The spa under the scanner is not the only one of Chougule’s assets that has the stigma of illegality attached to it. Chougule is also the landlord for a property that hosts a wine shop – Juben Wines – located at Adarsh Nagar in Andheri.

The plot has been slapped a demolition notice by the BMC, owing to illegal constructions erected upon it. This asset too is registered in his wife Madhuri’s name, though the owner of the shop, Juben Sawla, referred to DCP Chougule as his “landlord.”

MiD DAY, in its report on December 28, had published that a raid carried out by the Social Service (SS) Branch of the Mumbai police on December 10 in the Cleopatra Day Spa, located in Four Bungalows, had revealed that it was only a cover for an illegal sex trade racket (‘DCP bungalow home to spa sex racket’).

Investigations for the case had revealed that the property was owned by the senior cop, who is currently posted in the traffic police department.

Curbing under pressure put on it to hush up the matter, the SS Branch had hastily transferred the case to the Versova police station after arresting three women and rescuing seven sex workers.

“The plot was given a demolition notice. You will have to talk to my landlord Nandkumar Chougule, who looks after the property. At present there is a stay on the demolition,” said Sawla.

“We have sent a notice to the owner of the wine shop. The first floor of the building and its front portion have been illegally raised. We are waiting only because of a stay order from the court. As soon as we get a clearance, we will go ahead with the demolition,” confirmed Ramesh Pawar, assistant municipal commissioner, K (West) ward.

After MiD DAY’s disclosure, cops have been conducting a high-profile inquiry on Chougule and the assets owned by his family.

S P Yadav, the joint commissioner of police (administration), has been enquiring into the matter. An inquiry officer for the case has also been appointed by the Commissioner of Police Arup Patnaik. DCP Chougule was not available for comment.

Over 200 minors go missing in 6 months


One-fourth of 800 missing are children

THE TRIBUNE / Chandigarh, December 28

In a disturbing trend, a minor goes missing every day in Haryana. In the past six months, over 200 children, including 72 girls, have gone missing in the state, a development which has a direct bearing on the safety of the missing chidren.

In fact, the districts bordering Delhi in the National Capital Region (NCR) seem to be reporting highest number of missing children. The urbanised and crime-prone district of Faridabad reported the highest number of missing children with 45 children reported missing in the past six months. Suprisingly, out of these 45 missing children, 20 were girls. Sonepat with 33 missing kids and Hisar with 23 missing children were the other districts with a sizable missing population below 18 years.

Since June 28,2011, over 800 persons went missing in the state out of which nearly 250 were women above 18 years and over 200 children up to the age of 18 years. In all, over 1,600 children are reported to be missing in Haryana.

Expressing concern at the increasing number of missing children, a senior police official said the rise in number could be the result of the registration of cases in case of the missing persons which was not the case earlier. However, the involvement of the children trafficking gangs in the state could not be ruled out particularly in the districts in the NCR near the National Capital, he said, adding that nearly five minors went missing in Delhi every day.

The disappearance of the children in northern states was cause of concern for the authorities. The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) of the Union Home Ministry recently organised a workshop here to study the problem at the grassroots level and formulate a strategy to tackle the problem.

Meanwhile, data showed that Sonepat, with 40 cases, led the state in case of missing women (above 18 years), a majority of whom were married. Intriguingly, 27 minor boys went missing in Sonepat in the past six months. Similarly, Faridabad with 25 cases of minor boys missing reported 32 cases of women (above 18 years) missing. In Hisar, 34 women above the age of 18 years went missing as compared to 23 cases of minors, including 15 boys, gone missing.

Prostitution racket on premises rented out by DCP, probe ordered



A departmental inquiry has been ordered against a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) from the Mumbai Traffic Police department, after the police busted an alleged prostitution racket operating at a spa set up on an Andheri (West) premises rented out by the officer.

On Thursday, an inquiry was ordered against DCP (Traffic) Nandkumar Chougule, to probe the exact details of how the racket was flourishing on the property rented out by him. “An inquiry has been ordered through Joint Commissioner of Police (Administration) S P Yadav,” said Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik.

The matter came to light on December 10, when officers from the Social Service Branch of the Mumbai Police posed as dummy customers and approached Cleopatra Day Spa located in Seven Bungalows, Andheri (West), after receiving a tip-off that it was a front for a prostitution racket.

“After the information received was verified, the SS Branch conducted a raid on the premises, and arrested Saroj Bhakuni, who had taken the premises on rent and set up the spa there. Two of her associates were also arrested and all three accused were booked under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA). They have been remanded in police custody till December 12,” said an SS Branch officer, on condition of anonymity.

The police also seized Rs 64,700 in cash, a cheque worth Rs 36,000 and two bill books.

“During subsequent investigations, Bhakuni revealed she had taken the premises on rent from DCP Chougule. While it is registered in the name of Chougule’s wife, he allegedly handled the process of giving out the property to Bhakuni on a leave-and-licence agreement,” said an officer from Versova police station, which is probing the case after the SS Branch raid.

Chougale said, “I am ready to face any inquiry and to allow the law to take its own course. The property is in the name of my wife, who is an independent income tax payer. The leave-and-license agreement signed while giving out the property clearly states that if any illegal activity takes place inside, the licensee and not the licensor will be held responsible. In that case, how am I being dragged into this issue?”

“In any case, once a property is given out on rent, it is not possible for the owner to go each day to check what is going on there. For the past two years, there had been no complaints against the spa, and so there was no reason for suspicion and checks.”

Policing: Solving tough crime mysteries




Ashok Takalkar 
The resourceful police constable
A good network of sources and timely inputs help unravel the toughest crime mysteries in seconds. Constable Ashok Takalkar, attached to the Social Security Cell, is a rich man in terms of sources who give him timely inputs.
Out of 53 cases registered under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act this year, in a majority of cases it was Takalkar who provided inputs. Dedicated policemen like him helped rescue many girls who were forced into prostitution and paved the way for the arrest of their inhuman traffickers, who either cheated them by promising them a job or marriage.
Ask Takalkar about his proudest moment and he will talk about the rescue of a minor girl hours before she was forced into prostitution. “The rescue of the 16-year-old Bangladeshi girl who was lured into marriage and brought to Pune was no doubt the proudest moment for all of us. The girl was rescued hours before her trafficker had plans to sell her to brothel manager. More importantly, her so-called husband, a trafficker and one more woman were also arrested at the same time,” he says.
Asked how he builds sources, his answer is: “Interrogation. I contact each and every person mentioned by victims during their questioning and have managed to keep my sources well oiled over the years.” Takalkar, who has completed 30 years of service as a policeman, says it is team work when the rescue operation is successful and says encouragement and guidance from his top officers keeps him going.
Police Inspector Bhanupratap Barge, in-charge of Social Security Cell, said: “Timely rewards and appreciation of subordinate officers provides them with an impetus to work harder, which Takalkar has always followed.”
Social Security Cell score board
Prevention of Immroral Trafficing Act cases
2011: 53
2010: 33
Traffickers and brothel managers arrested
2011: 112
2010: 65
Number of people rescued by SS cell
2011: Number of minors rescued stands at 18, majors at 35
2010: Minors 28, majors 28


Mumbai cops raid bar, rescue 9 girls allegedly involved in prostitution

The officers of Social Service Branch (SSB) on Tuesday night raided a bar in Samta Nagar area in Kandivali (E), Mumbai and rescued nine girls believed to be involved in prostitution and arrested the bar conductor and cashier.

According to assistant commissioner of police, Special Squad, Vasant Dhoble, they received specific information that prostitution was being carried out in Sawli Bar, situated opposite Samta Nagar police station. The police then raided the said bar at 9pm on Tuesday and rescued nine girls allegedly involved in the alleged prostitution racket.

“We have arrested bar conductor and cashier on charges of Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act and have also seized cash worth lakhs from the bar. The bar required orchestra license, but the girls who were actually waitresses, indulged into prostitution and obscenity. Cavities were also found inside the bar,” said Dhoble, adding that the bar was owned by a lady.

‘Child trafficking a serious problem’

PATNA: Social welfare minister Parveen Amanullah said on Saturday that trafficking of children for work was a serious problem in the state, specially in the districts falling in the basin of the Kosi, requiring long-term measures to prevent it.

Amanullah, who released the report titled ‘Stolen Childhoods: A Study of Child Trafficking in the Kosi Region of Bihar’, prepared by an organization, ‘Save the Children’, with focus on Khagaria and Araria districts, added that a massive mass awareness drive was the need of the hour.

She said that several social security measures being implemented under the aegis of her department addressed the problems facing families afflicted with poverty and those in the old-age category. Besides, quite a few schemes had been launched for income generation activities in the below poverty line (BPL) families, she said, adding at the same time that trafficking of children, including girl children, for work and other subhuman activities, when they should be at schools, was the most serious problem in the districts concerned.

Among those who also spoke on the occasion were labour resources department principal secretary Vyasji and ‘Save the Children’ representative Alex George. A question-answer session also followed, in which the representatives of participating NGOs and Unicef also took part.

Vyasji said the problem of child labour has been plaguing a number of districts, adding that his department had taken a number of steps to free children engaged in several activities, including as domestic helps, but the problem has continued to plague the society.

He called upon NGOs and civil societies not to engage just in isolated piecemeal activities to free child labour and to prevent trafficking of children, but to launch a concerted “movement” in the state to eradicate both child labour and trafficking of children. “It, of course, requires massive awareness campaign, coupled with addressing problems at the grassroots level,” Vyasji said.

The ‘Save the Children’ report on trafficking of children with respect to Khagaria and Araria districts, which constitute the peripheral areas of the flood plain in the Kosi basin, has noted that trafficking of children in the two districts was of gigantic proportions. A study of 8,252 children encompassing 4,111 households covered in the survey pertaining to the two districts showed that 639 or 7.7% of the surveyed children had been trafficked.

Mumbai: Flourishing Prostitution Racket in Guise of Dance Troupes?



Mumbai: Flourishing Prostitution Racket in Guise of Dance Troupes?

Mumbai, Dec 24:After six girls, being sent to a foreign destination in the guise of a dance troupe, were found to be sent there for being a part of the sex racket there, they were rescued from  the international airport here on Wednesday.

This incident has again brought to the fore the legitimacy of cultural troupes making foreign tours in the name of promoting country’s culture, and helping some of the members of these troupes to illegally immigrate to another country and become a part of an illegal sex racket there.

During this flash raid, ten passports were seized. The policemen found that these girls had earlier visited Abu Dhabi, Malaysia and Singapore. One of the arrested, Sharif Sheikh, was remanded to police custody by a local court till Tuesday next.

The above rescue act was made by the social service wing of Mumbai police. Reports said that the six girls the wing arrested on Wednesday are in fact, not trained dancers, but they were being taken outside the country for sex trade. These girls, the policemen have found out, are being screened and auditioned in studios, before being picked for being part of the flourishing international prostitution racket, which serves affluent clients mostly from Singapore, Malaysia and the Middle East.

The policemen had learnt that every month, about 5,000 girls from the country are being ferried out of the nation by rackets helping brothels functioning in foreign destinations.  Many have expressed the suspicion that a number of young girls, who have regularly been mysteriously going missing from their homes in Udupi, Dakshin Kannada and Kerala, and whose whereabouts almost always go untraced, are being used by this racket.

These rackets are active in cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chandigarh, etc. Pimps located in these cities identify and source girls to this racket. In the name of troupes of dancers touring foreign countries, thousands of girls are being taken to foreign countries. These girls never return to country with the troupes, but stay there for some time. It is suspected that these rackets collect huge sums of money for helping these girls to be carried abroad.

Assistant police commissioner, Vasant Daombale, said that these troupes carry these girls on the basis of either the tourist visas or work permits, in which their profession is stated as dance artistes, which are valid for one or two months. He revealed that the girls, most of whom have experience of being bar dancers, are auditioned and photographed in studios in Andheri. They are then picked on the basis of these processes, for being transported to foreign locations. He suspects that this racket’s annual turnover is in thousands of crores of rupees. He said that the girls are being sent in batches of six to ten with a gap of ten days in between two batches, from different cities. He added that the girls are paid about one to two lac rupees before being ferried, after which they get 40 percent of their earnings out of entertaining rich clients. If the girls return later, they work under pimps in the country, he said.


Nepal’s Migrants Lured By Empty Promises, Trapped by Bosses Abroad




It’s not hard to see why so many Nepalese workers leave their country to try their luck in the rich Gulf states; the sale of their “cheap labor” abroad seems like the only way to climb out of the global wealth gap. But their hope is buoyed on empty promises, according to an investigation by Amnesty International, which shows how Nepal’s migration system transforms its people into commodities on both sides of the labor trade.

The Amnesty report details scores of cases of inhumane treatment, including many migrants reporting they were “beaten, threatened and had their freedom of movement restricted by employers.” Concentrated in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, and within a few low-wage sectors such as construction and domestic work, migration has grown exponentially over the past decade. The official count is more than 290,000 in 2010, but the real number could be as much as double that. The exodus was in part spurred by the chaos resulting from a long-running civil conflict that led to massive killing and displacement.

For a “developing country,” though, these migration patterns are not an example of the “free market” at work. The migrant industry is managed by brokers who funnel labor into foreign markets while authorities turn a blind eye to horrific working conditions, and the workers in turn pump out remittances that prop up Nepal’s economy.

In 2008-2009, the labor agencies sucked about $710,000 per day from migrants’ pockets, just for the privilege of toiling in a country where they might earn enough to live on. According to researchers, ‘Of the 150 returnees and prospective migrant workers interviewed for the report, more than 90 per cent of them said that they were deceived by recruitment agencies and brokers on the fundamental aspects of their contract.” These agencies have little oversight, despite labor laws governing migration. Authorities have generally failed to address abuse issues and hold agencies accountable for labor violations.

The report also suggests that, by leaving migrants with no opportunity but to enter into crooked contracts, the whole financial infrastructure of Nepal is also partly to blame:

Even if migrants, while still in Nepal, become aware of the discrepancies between what they were promised and what appears in their contract, it is generally too late to challenge this, as they only receive their contract, passport, work visa and flight ticket days or hours before their departure – frequently at the airport itself. At this point, migrants are usually already too deeply indebted to be able to refuse the job.

This is because the prospective migrants must pay the recruitment fees in advance and the vast majority can only do this by taking out large loans from private individuals at an average annual interest rate of about 35 per cent. This is 150 per cent higher than the maximum acceptable interest charge of 14 per cent, as stipulated by the Government. However, as banks will generally not provide loans to migrants without adequate financial collateral, most prospective migrants have no choice but to accept the exorbitant terms offered by private lenders.

Similar debt systems target the poor around the world (the U.S., where predatory lenders stalk low-income neighborhoods, is no exception). But impoverished Asian migrants are especially vulnerable to multiple barriers of global inequality. With migrants’ fees averaging about $1,400, “recruiters” extract about three times the average 2010 yearly income in Nepal.

Migrants quickly become virtual captives. Amnesty researcher Norma Kang Muico told In These Times: for many, returning to their home countries was not an option, even though they realised that they had been deceived on their salary amount, job type, overtime pay, and/or rest day.

The social toll of migration often falls hardest on Nepalese women, who make up about 30 percent of transnational migrant workers. Physical, sexual, verbal abuse and threats were reported by many female domestic servants and nearly women trafficked into prostitution.

One woman who had worked in Kuwait said in an interview:

One time the second son told me he loved me and wanted to be with me. When I told him no, he became aggressive and grabbed me but I pushed him away. When the mother saw this, she blamed me and began to beat me.

However, gender-specific regulations imposed by the Nepalese government, ostensibly to “protect” women migrants, has backfired. To get around restrictions on formal migration for female domestic workers, Muico said, “many migrate through irregular channels to work abroad.  As a result, female migrant workers face a higher risk of forced labour practices….  Several interviewees told us that they did not go to the Nepalese authorities for help because of their undocumented status.”

Though exploitative labor migration may seem an inevitable byproduct of a vast global inequities, governments can take steps to protect workers who make the journey, in Muico’s view:

In order to address some of the wider issues of poverty and unemployment, sending and receiving countries must both endorse safe migration.  If the recruitment process is transparent, that is, migrants are properly trained, receive a contract in Nepali and in advance of travel, and the terms and conditions of their contract are fulfilled, then they are more likely to experience successful migration.

“Successful migration” in today’s economy means at best a chance to return home to start a business or pay a child’s school tuition, and to invest remittances toward leveling out some of the inequality afflicting their communities.

Yet, as relatively prosperous countries deal with financial crisis (or in the case of the Middle East and North Africa, political upheaval), and poverty and corruption continue at home, a cleaner path to migration won’t resolve the long term social struggles in the Global South. Nonetheless, when the state exploits migrants and reaps the profits of the risks they take abroad, they not only forfeit economic sovereignty to the predation of a neoliberal labor market, but they break a social contract with their own citizens.


Mumbai cops stop Indian sex workers heading to Southeast Asia

NEW DELHI: Mumbai police have exposed a flesh trade racket involved in sending bar girls to Southeast Asian cities to work as entertainers and sex workers for rich clients.

The girls were allegedly sent to hotels in Malaysia and Singapore, and West Asia under the pretext of being singers, said police, after rescuing six girls in India’s financial capital.

“Most girls are former bar dancers. They are carefully screened before being selected and even given an audition in a studio where they are photographed,” said Vasant Dhobale, city’s Assistant Police Commissioner of the Social Service Branch, reported the Asian Age Friday.

Police apprehended the girls at the Mumbai international airport on Wednesday and recovered passports from the syndicate that revealed they had visited Malaysia and Singapore, said the paper.

Only a pimp was arrested during the police operation while the syndicate’s mastermind was not traceable.

“Girls are sent in batches of six to 10 every 10 days. They are provided either tourist visas or work permits, claiming they are going abroad as dance artistes,” added Dhobale.

Once the girls return home after their assignment, the pimps collect 40% as their commission.

Over 50,000 girls working as dancers in Mumbai, Maharashtra’s capital, went unemployed after the state banned dance bars in 2005 to curb sex trade and human trafficking. – Bernama


Bar dancers in big sex racket

Investigations into the international prostitution racket that was busted at the international airport on Wednesday has uncovered a highly-organised modus operandi, where girls are screened and auditioned in studios before being sent abroad to cater to filthy-rich clients. The racket caters to clients based out of Singapore, Malaysia and the Middle East.

“Most of the girls are former bar dancers. They are carefully screened before being selected and even have to give an audition in a studio, where they are photographed. Most of these studios are located in Andheri. Selection is based on the results of this audition,” Vasant Dhobale, assistant commissioner of police, social service branch, said.

According to an official, pimps provide girls from several major cities in India. Apart from Mumbai, the racket also has modules in Uttar Pradesh, Kolkata, Rajasthan and New Delhi.

“Girls are sent in batches of six to 10 every 10 days from these cities. They are provided either tourist visas or work permits, which claim that they are going abroad as ‘dance artistes’. Each girl is given `1.5 to 2.5 lakh, while being sent abroad. Around 40 per cent of whatever she earns while ‘entertaining’ clients, is taken by the pimps after she returns,” said Mr Dhobale. Nearly 5,000 girls are sent abroad from India every month, and the profits of the rackets run into several hundred crores of rupees, the police said.

During the flash raid on Wednesday, 10 passports were seized; a scrutiny of these has revealed that the girls had been sent to Abu Dhabi, Malaysia and Singapore in the past. Meanwhile, a local court has remanded Sharif Sheikh arrested in Wednesday’s raid, to police custody till Tuesday.