Over the years, it has been widely reported that during the festival of Navratri, sexual activity is on the rise in certain pockets of the country. In fact, in 2012, a dandiya venue in Mumbai even got a condom-vending machine installed. However, doctors attending to unwanted pregnancies aren’t the only ones who witness a spike in the demand for their services around this time of the year. The private detective comes right after.
Many rely on private eyes to keep track of their family members during such events. “The demand grows drastically during Navratri. It is either the parents who hire us to spy on their children, or husbands and wives want to know where their spouses have been,” says detective Vishal Vazir, who owns All In One Private Services, a Kandivali-based firm.
Behind the scenes
According to Vazir, in many cases, the doubts fall flat. But there have been times when his clients’ suspicions have turned out to be true. Recalling a case he took on last year, he says, “The girl was from Surat, Gujarat, and her fiancé was from Mumbai. She wanted him to come to Surat during Navratri, as it is celebrated in a big way there. But he kept making odd excuses.” Eventually, Vazir was employed. With the help of “video surveillance”, he was able to find out that the potential groom spent the last three days of Navratri at a hotel in Gorai. “After playing dandiya in Borivali, he and his friends would head to the beach, with some women,” says Vazir.
In another instance, a detective who works with PR Investigations, in Sewri, reveals that he was hired by a man, who wanted to know where his daughter went, and who she interacted with at the dandiya venues. Little did he know that this chance suspicion would lead him to find out that his daughter was in a relationship. “He saw her visit a few pandals with this man, and realised that he was her boyfriend. He was her gym instructor,” says the detective, who prefers to be known as Sandeep.
Not just Navratri
Usually, spies are in demand during festivals that involve mass celebrations — dandiya during Navratri, card parties during Diwali, Ganpati visarjan, formal dances during Christmas. However, Sandeep reveals that business has been booming for detective companies, in general, for some time now. His company, gets over 15 cases a month.
One of the strangest cases, according to Harsh Sharma, who co-owns Empire Detective Services, Mira Road, came to him from a woman, who was cheating on her husband with a married man. Her fear was that her paramour was being unfaithful to her. And as it turned out, she was right. “I followed him for eight days, and I found out that my client was right. I was surprised to learn that after I gave her the evidence, she started blackmailing her lover. But since that is none of my business, I reserved my comments,” he says.
The back end
In most cases, detectives make sure they stay out of sight and avoid personal contact of any kind. Therefore, all interactions between the clients and the private eyes take place over the phone or on email. “Our job ends when we have found the evidence and handed it over to the client. We do not get involved in the case personally, or confront either party, even if we are asked to do so,” says Vazir.
The price for such services usually falls in the range of Rs 6,000 and Rs 3,000 per day. Most people hire private eyes for about eight to 10 days. Usually, there are two people who follow the lead; one rides the bike and the other rides pillion, taking photographs or aiming the spy cam in the right direction. “We would like to believe that we actually help relationships prosper. We remove suspicions from people’s minds and, thereby, help them get rid of that extra stress, or we share with them the evidence of a wrongdoing and clear the air,” says Vazir.
About eight months back, I succumbed to my family’s pressure and decided to get married. My parents found me a boy who lived in the US. After getting introduced over the phone, we started chatting online and on WhatsApp. But then, after a few days, I started noticing a change in his behaviour. He would randomly talk about getting physical with me before marriage, and would discuss a lot of other obscene things that I would rather not talk about. I wanted to know more about this guy, because I felt he was hiding something. But he was in the US, and I couldn’t afford to go there. So, I hired Harsh Sharma, and within eight days, he gave me every detail about my ‘potential groom’. I got to see his compromising pictures with other girls, and records of his chats with other women online, while he was pursuing me simultaneously. This man probably wanted me to take care of his ailing mother in the US, and that was the only reason he wanted to marry me. Obviously, I didn’t go ahead with the marriage.
— Shradha Somaiya, 24, a BA LLB student
If someone gets to know that his or her partner, or spouse, has hired a detective to spy on him or her, there probably wouldn’t be any repercussion, if he or she is cheating. It will be considered a rational move. But, if someone hires a detective to spy on a loyal person, then the person who hires the detective could be considered delusional. This kind of behaviour could badly damage an existing relationship.
— Shyam Mithiya, relationship counsellor