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Shattered in city of dreams

The Mumbai police crime branch busted a prostitution racket and rescued five women who were allegedly forced into flesh trade, during a raid at a bungalow in Madh island, last week.

mumbai Updated: May 24, 2010 01:33 IST
Debasish Panigrahi

The Mumbai police crime branch busted a prostitution racket and rescued five women who were allegedly forced into flesh trade, during a raid at a bungalow in Madh island, last week.

Meena Singh (34), the woman who allegedly ran the racket, was arrested.

One of the women rescued is 21-year-old Sweety Chugh (name changed), an aspiring actress.

Two years after Chugh came to Mumbai from Jabalpur, she found herself at a rescue home in Chembur.

Hindustan Times accessed this small-town girl’s police statement.

‘I waited for that big break’

I was at home after passing my class 12 exams. I was not interested in studies. I have two younger brothers who are studying. My father works in a private company in Jabalpur. I knew his earnings were not enough to educate all three of us.

I had an overwhelming desire to act in television serials, which I watched at home all the time. However, there was little chance to come to Mumbai because I did not know anyone here.

One day, I came across Pradeep [an acquaintance from Jabalpur]. I told him about my desire to act in television serials. Pradeep said my height and features were good enough to get me a break with a big banner. It took me some time to convince my family. Pradeep brought me to his one-room tenement at Versova. He demanded his pound of flesh. I could not protest.

He took me to a contractor who supplies junior artists for serials. I went on a couple of occasions. The remuneration was not more than Rs 2,000 to Rs. 3,000. Fortunately, I came across another girl from Jabalpur who gave me the telephone number of an estate agent. I got accommodation as paying guest.

I struggled for the next two months to get a role in a serial, but failed. I was broke. I had no money for food. Since I would tell my parents that I was doing well, I could not ask them for money.

Lata, who worked with me gave me Meena Singh’s mobile number. I was desperate. I needed money to survive.

My customers were rich, old men. They would splurge Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 for a night. Meena would take a cut of about 30 per cent but she ensured a steady flow of customers.

I was reduced to a call girl. I did not want to go back home because I had lost the courage to face my parents and brothers.

I regularly sent them money so that they would believe in my “success”. I wanted to get out of this hell but I didn’t know how. So I decided to go with the flow.

I want to go back home. But how will I face my parents?