Residents of Malad (West) and Madh Island have been urging the police to conduct surprise raids on lodges that are mushrooming in the localities. Residents said these lodges are used mainly for sex by couples and their presence has led to an increase in rapes and other crimes.
Residents said lodge owners, looking to make a quick buck, rarely check guests’ identification before renting out rooms.
The abduction, molestation and rape of two teenage girls, including the daughter of an actor-turned-director, brought the spotlight back on these lodges.
In March, Hindustan Times and Ipsos Indica Research conducted a survey of over 10,000 Mumbaiites and simultaneously held discussions with citizen groups across the city. In the discussion on Malad, these lodges and the rising number of crimes emerged as key concerns.
“We have been writing to the police and meeting with them to ask for raids on these guesthouses and hotels. When the police patrol and keep a check, the incidents stop but the moment they stop paying attention the lodges again start renting rooms without checking guests’ credentials,” said Naresh Kohli, a Malwani resident.
“The lodge owners are only concerned with money. They should not let minors rent the rooms,” said Ashok Surve, a member of the Marve residents’ association.
The police, however, claim they have sent circulars detailing the rules that hoteliers need to follow while renting out rooms. They have been given strict instructions not to take bookings without checking the age and identification of guests.
Following the arrest of Pritesh Doshi (24), who allegedly raped a 13-year-old girl in a hotel at Madh Island, the police increased their vigil on small hotels across Mumbai.
“We have issued specific guidelines, asking owners of these establishments to verify their customers’ backgrounds and maintain detailed records,” said Musa Shaikh, assistant commissioner of police (Malad West).
Officers said policemen have been deputed for patrolling at Marve and an armed guard has been posted at Aksa junction.
Hotel staffers have also been asked to record their customers’ vehicle registration numbers and makes.
“We don’t allow any lodge without a proper licence to operate in the area,” said Shaikh.
Shiva Shankar, manager of Sri Om lodge near Aksa Beach, said they always check guests’ identification before giving them rooms. “We will follow the police’s instructions,” he said.
December 5, 2009
Pritesh Doshi (26), a Malad resident, was arrested for allegedly raping a Charkop schoolgirl at a Madh Island lodge. Police said Doshi would regularly accost the girl and impress her with his smooth talking. He would get her to talk about her previous boyfriends and would then blackmail her. He took her to a cheap lodge at Malad and raped her. The victim’s father had lashed out at the police for letting shady hotels operate in Malad.
December 16, 2009
A teenaged girl was abused in one of the cottages at Madh island. Police registered a case against Tikamram Sutar (33), a resident of Dahisar (East). The victim was employed in Sutar’s office. Sutar visited the lodge at Madh Island from August to November during which he had a sexual relationship with the victim several times. She was allegedly lured into the relationship with promises of marriage.