The desire to “work closely” with foreign tourists and get paid handsomely for his services landed a 26-year-old aspiring male escort and model in deep trouble.
Sohal Hashmi, who worked as a salesman in a mobile shop at Delhi’s Palika Bazar, was kidnapped for a ransom of Rs 10 lakh by a group of six men, who ran a fake gigolo agency in Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur, close to the national capital.
Delhi police rescued him on Sunday from a village in Hapur, where he was held hostage for three days.
Deputy commissioner of police (east) Rishipal said five members of the racket — Anil Kumar Yadav of Delhi’s Nihal Vihar, Bhim and Mangli of Hapur, Mohammad Fakira and Naim of Amroha — were arrested. The mastermind, Pritam, who is said to be involved in similar crimes, is on the run.
Yadav, a share broker in debt, approached Pritam this August to become an escort after going through a newspaper advertisement that offered “young, well-built and good-looking” men to join the agency and earn between Rs 15,000 and Rs 25,000 a day.
Pritam was the one who placed the advertisement. But Yadav backtracked when Pritam explained to him the services he was supposed to provide to their women clients.
“He initially agreed to work as escort as he urgently needed money to pay off his debts,” an investigator said.
Pritam failed to change Yadav’s mind, but offered him work — lure young men for similar services. He was promised 15% share as commission for each successful deal. Yadav accepted the offer as it contained “no risk and only pay”.
On September 1, Pritam met Yadav at Karol Bagh Metro station and gave him a mobile phone and a SIM card. He appointed Yadav as a telecaller for his agency and told him that his job will be to receive calls and convince callers to become male escorts.
Pritam told Yadav that calls will start coming after he floats advertisements in leading Hindi newspapers.
In about a fortnight, Yadav received more than 100 calls, but nobody agreed to become an escort.
But on October 1, east Delhi’s Farsh Bazar resident, Sohal Hashmi, accepted the offer. Hashmi sent his bio-data along with his latest photographs to Yadav, who in turn forwarded them to Pritam.
Hashmi’s father had died some years ago and he lived in a rented home in Bihari Colony with his mother, a housewife. His sister is married.
He was not satisfied with the money he earned as a salesman. He used to go regularly to a gym, aspiring to be a model.
“Pritam was impressed with Hashmi’s physique and personality. The employers asked him to meet them at Hapur bus terminal on October 5. But heavy rain prevented Hashmi to go there on the appointed day and so, he went on October 6,” said an officer.
Pritam and Mangli received Hashmi at the bus stop. But instead of taking him to their office at Brijghat, the duo took him to a remote village on a motorcycle. They kidnapped him at gunpoint, took away his mobile phone and belongings and held him captive.
“That very evening, Yadav left for Amroha and on the way made three calls to Hashmi’s mother and demanded Rs 10 lakh for his release. The mother approached Farsh Bazar police and filed a case,” the officer said.
Investigators established Yadav’s role after examining Hashmi’s phone call records, which showed they were regularly in touch before the kidnapping. They tracked down Yadav’s location to Hapur and rescued Hashmi.
Police said Hashmi too was in dire need of money to pay his house rent after he splurged Rs 20,000 saved for the purpose at a wedding party binge. In desperation, after the landlady pestered him for the rent, he accepted the escort’s job.