The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sleaze racket busted at home

Siliguri, March 6: After dingy hotels and nondescript beauty-parlours and physiotherapy centres, flesh trade is slowly becoming rampant in residential places as well. The construction boom in the trade hub seems to be the reason behind it.

Seven persons were arrested from a flat in Deshbandhupara late last night for being involved in a sleaze racket. 'We had prior information that a sex-racket was being run in a flat at Deshbandhupara. During a raid last night, we caught the people red-handed and arrested them,' said Kallol Ganai, the Siliguri additional superintendent of police.

According to Ganai, the racket was being run by Dhananjoy Roy and Mousumi, who have been staying in the rented flat for the past few months. Roy reportedly introduced Mousumi as his wife. The seven arrested persons includes Sanchita Sarkar, who was one of the racketeers, and Bangshi Basfor, Mukesh Sharma, Santosh Saha and Amit Palit, all alleged clients, Ganai said.

With beauty parlours and hotels already under police scanner, the racketeers apparently are preferring the 'relatively safer' option of running their trade from residential places. 'Since hotels and beauty parlours always run the risk of being raided by the police, sex-racketeers now choose to work from homes in residential neighbourhoods,' the additional superintendent added.

In a series of similar raids two years ago, the police had arrested around 20 people from rented flats and apartments across different parts of the town.

According to residents, plenty of flats have been lying vacant owing to the lack of enough number of buyers, which has helped the rise in the number of sleaze-rackets here. Moreover, anonymity of the trade town's floating population also reportedly helps flesh traders run their business.

Though Ganai refused to divulge if the police knew about such rackets being functional in other areas as well, he said they will soon launch a more intensive drive against similar gangs.

In an effort to check these rackets, the police had introduced a rule last year, according to which, landlords were supposed to submit all details of their tenants at the police station. But for the trade hub, which sees a large number of emigrants and immigrants come and go every year and hordes of landlords vying to rent their properties out, the rule took a backseat.

'Soon, we will relaunch the awareness drive for landlords asking them to provide us with all details of their tenants,' Ganai said. 'Passing the information to the police does not ensure a total end to the crime, but it makes our job of tracking down criminals easier.'

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