B'wood craze stokes vice rackets
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B'wood craze stokes vice rackets

Girls are being forced into prostitution by gangs operating undercover of film/music business in London.

india Updated: Dec 29, 2003 12:17 IST

The craze for Bollywood has fuelled vice rackets that threaten law and order situation in London, according to Tarique Ghaffur, assistant commissioner police, who is the highest-ranking Asian officer in the Metropolitan Police.

He says teenage girls are being forced into sexual slavery and prostitution by violent criminal gangs operating under the cover of the Bollywood film and music business. The spurt in Asian prostitution,Ghaffur told the Observer, was part of a general expansion of sex trade in London.

It is true that there has been a noticeable increase in ads pinned inside telephone booths to lure people to Asian girls. They are described in lewd terms. Ghaffur told the weekly, "we are becoming increasingly aware of prostitution racket and human trafficking around music groups linked to India and Pakistani film industry".

The police now say that much of sex slave trade revolves around mujras. Officers have apparently become aware of this becauseGhaffur would know about the traditional form of mujras in the sub-continent, that are now admittedly being exploited by gangs for sex trading.

But, the fact is that some isolated reports about two years ago from Southall and Slough had indicated that girls performing mujras were being pushed into prostitution.

Publicised by word of mouth only performances, according to the police, take place late in the evening at specially chosen venues in the heart of the Asian community like in Bradford, London, Birmingham and Leicester. Initially, the normal traditional mujras had started in these cities.

But now, according to police sources, things have changed. The girls, some time numbering as many as 12 to 20, wearing costumes copied from dancers in Indian films, dance to the soundtracks of popular Bollywood songs. They are later offered for £75 to £100. Organisers are said to make profits up to £1000 in one night.

The Metropolitan Police got alarmed specially after the findings in an investigation of the murder of one Tahir Butt, a wealthy restaurant owner. His body was found beaten and strangled in his own car. The police found that he was heavily involved in the mujra trade.

He used to supervise a performance by a troupe of young dancers from Pakistan. A rival promoter from Bradford had tried to muzzle into his operations. But Butt was actually rid of by his long-term lover from India who had got over him and fallen for a new lover, also from India.

But the information gathered during the investigation has given clues top the police about organised vice-rackets that exploit the craze for Bollywood style dancing and film songs. The result has been a rise in rival gangs that often clash violently.

Now report in the Observer alleges that protection racketeers have sprung up in many parts of east and west London and have been preying on shopkeepers. A source also said that more Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are involved in heroin trading and related violence.

A few years ago violent clashes had taken place in Birmingham with the local Pak community boys accusing the police of doing nothing to curb prostitution racketeers.

First Published: Dec 25, 2003 21:33 IST