Seven women were arrested near Patna Junction late on Sunday evening for their alleged involvement in flesh trade.
The women allegedly ganged up with autorickshaw drivers and rickshaw pullers to trap men and later forced the victims to pay.
However, one among the seven women arrested stood out in the lot, as she had a controversial past.
On July 23, 2009, a youth had reportedly stripped a woman in full public glare on Exhibition Road. Soon after the incident made headlines, she disappeared. To contain the shameful incident, the state government had transferred 14 police officers, including then inspector-general (IG), deputy inspector-general, Patna senior superintendent of police and Patna city superintendent of police.
The same woman was allegedly nabbed in the Sunday raid. Patna SSP Manu Maharaaj said it is possible that the 2009 incident could have been fake and the entire episode was choreographed.
“The women, aged between 30 and 50 years, move around in the Patna Junction area. They are involved in flesh trade. But the women also represent a gang. They are okay when they get good customers with enough money. But on lean days, they try to make money in a different way,” the officer said.
On their modus operandi, a source said the women would spot a victim who appears gullible and not financially strong.
“The victim is then lured and then one of the women hails an autorickshaw or a cycle rickshaw. The autorickshaw or the cycle rickshaw drivers are part of the gang. They would roam around these women waiting for a call. The victim is then taken on the vehicle to a crowded place. Many a time the women ask the autorickshaw drivers to reach a spot close to a police station or a parked patrol vehicle,” the source said.
The source added that threat for money or other belongings used to start during the journey itself.
“The women asked their victims to let go their belongings (money, watch and other things). If they did not give, the woman in the vehicle would scream saying that the man was molesting her. In most of the cases, the victim immediately agreed to hand over whatever he had because getting caught would mean an arrest, a possible thrashing and a lot of embarrassment. If the victim did not budge, the vehicle was stopped and a drama was orchestrated in front of people,” another police officer said.
Sources said the raid was carried out after a number of “victims” complained about such incidents. “In most cases, victims don’t come out in the open fearing social stigma. But a victim lodged a complaint and we formed a special team to nab the women. The 2009 incident could have happened after one such victim didn’t budge and the woman portrayed the episode as if she was stripped,” the officer said.