Flooded with complaints of fake goods, the city police find they have no way out of the problem save by raising public awareness. As part of the drive to educate Calcuttans, the police are putting up billboards with suggestions on how to avoid being duped.
The move follows the Calcuttan’s recent trend of buying fake goods — be it an audio, a video compact disc or a perfume. “A section of people don’t know that they are buying fake goods. But the majority does it consciously. The only reason is that the fake goods are much cheaper,” said Soumen Mitra, deputy commissioner of the detective department. As part of the awareness programme, a billboard has already been erected on Park Street, requesting citizens to keep away from fakes.
K.L. Tamta, deputy commissioner (headquarters) said: “The markets are being flooded with fake goods. Though we conduct raids, it is not possible to root out these goods without help from the people. So, we have decided to set up a number of billboards, on which our plea to avoid fake goods will be displayed. We will have to fight against it jointly. We hope the people of the city will come forward for the crusade.”
An officer of the press section — the detective department’s only wing that deals with fake goods — said the city’s major business hubs were flooded with imitations.
“Audio or video compact discs (CDs), cassettes, watches, cameras and clothes are easily saleable items. Besides, books under the banner of famous publishers and pirated software are also available in the market. We keep conducting raids and thousands of items are seized. But a handful of policemen are not enough to control this mushrooming business. What is needed is awareness among Caluttans,” said the officer.
The business hubs for fake goods are Chandni Chowk, the pavements of JL Nehru Road and Park Street, Burrabazar, Posta and pockets like Kidderpore, in the port division. Sleuths claim transactions worth Rs 10-15 lakh take place in the fakes market every day.
According to deputy commissioner Mitra: “Chandi Chowk is the hub for fake goods like CDs, cassettes and other electronic items. In this area alone, transactions touch Rs 50,000-70,000 a day. We keep a vigil on this pocket. Fakes worth crores are impounded every year.”
An official of the press section added: “It is not feasible to make a raid only to seize 50 or 100 fake CDs. We wait for a major consignment. So, whenever we raid Chandni Chowk, we seize goods valued at several lakhs.”
According to sources, a daily business of Rs 7 lakh takes place in the Burrabazar and Posta areas. “Apart from these, Fancy Market in Kidderpore and some other pockets in Garden Reach and Metiabruz, too, deal in several lakhs every day,” said another official.
According to Mitra, the fake CD business is the easiest way to mint money. “All you need to prepare a fake CD is a computer with copier facilities. It takes only a few minutes to record an entire film on blank CDs, costing Rs 20 each. Each of these fakes sells for Rs 50 to Rs 70, which is a huge profit.”
“In order to cope with this problem, the city people have to be conscious. We are trying our best and we hope they will respond to our plea,” stated Tamta.