Acting on a tip-off, Ghaziabad police on Saturday conducted raid at a hotel in Bajaria and nabbed 56 young couples, all adults, on suspicion of involvement in a prostitution racket.
The relatives and family members who arrived at women police-station, levied allegations over police of high-handedness and the legality of detention of consenting-couples who were not allowed to leave till late Saturday evening.
The raid was conducted on Saturday afternoon at hotel Gopal Plaza from where the young men and women were picked up by police as men were bundled inside a private bus and lodged at Ghanta-Ghar Kotwal and the women lodged at women’s police-station.
Although the hotel officials escaped the raid and fled, a male receptionist was nabbed who told HT that the hotel had 120 rooms which were booked by couples from as early as 6am on Saturday.
"Couples generally arrive here for two-three hours and pay up Rs. 500-600 for the stay. We scan for identification and allow them in. However, the IDs of women are not asked for," said Rajesh Singh, the receptionist.
Senior officials who arrived at spot, suspended the Bajaria police-post in-charge and the beat-constable for negligence. A head-constable was also sent to the police lines.
A majority of the young couples called up their friends for rescue as none of them were willing to reveal the matter to their family members as they were detained on suspicion of prostitution.
"Both my friends are here. She is pursuing her MBA and had arrived with her boyfriend who is preparing for civil-services and now detained. We have told police officials that both are 23 years and have an affair. But no one is ready to listen and have detained the young women who is now terrified that her family will come to know and threatening to commit suicide," said a friend who arrived after he got a call from his friend.
"This is really torturous as both are major in age and consenting couple and if the women is not allowed to leave, her family will come to know. How can police detain them?" the friend added. The couple is stated to be from North-East Delhi.
Another 22-year-old man from East-Delhi, who was lodged at Ghanta-Ghar told HT that he had gone with his girl-friend to her college for filling of forms and then decided to book a room at Ghaziabad.
"There is no prostitution angle in our relationship and we booked a room after we filled up forms at her college. We both are neighbors and love each other. If her family comes to know, they would kill her. Even my father has threatened me after he came to know that we both were caught in such a case," the young man added.
The scenes at women police-station were not encouraging either, as number of women were pleading, shivering, vomiting when questioned by police over the suspected prostitution angle. One of these women fainted after repeated requests as she wanted to reach her house before evening.
On the other hand, senior police officials said that 60% of the couple were from Delhi while rest 40% were from western UP areas of Ghaziabad, Meerut, Hapur and one from Uttrakhand.
"We are suspecting that some cases could be related to prostitution and they would be booked and arrested under provision of Immoral Trafficking Act. We have not arrested any of the couple as yet and verifying their identities and trying to rule out their involvement. There are no minors and there is no monetary consideration found as yet during initial investigation. We have also ruled out a possibility of any group-sex angle," superintendent of police (SP) Shiv Shanker Yadav told HT.
"We have some five or six cases where people were found to be husband and wives and they will be allowed to leave. Most women are college students and rest housewives and our investigations are continuing. Those found involved in a prostitution scenario, will be arrested and sent for medical examination," SP added.
However, the verification of those nabbed could not end by Saturday evening.