30 sex workers rescued in 5 mths from Koregaon Park hotels, parlours
In the first five months of 2019, the number of cases is already nine, according to the zonal police office, with 30 women rescued.Updated: Jun 12, 2019 14:57 IST
Hindustan Times, Pune
Koregaon Park (KP) has been Pune’s traditional go-to area for bars, restaurants, and night-life.
However, since January 2019 the area, also home to some the city’s biggest private residences, several star hotels and the Osho commune, has seen a rise in the number of cases involving prostitution which have been busted here by the city police.
In 2018, the number of cases under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficing Act (Pita) registered in, and/or from KP, was three with six women rescued.
In the first five months of 2019, the number of cases is already nine, according to the zonal police office, with 30 women rescued.
Bachchan Singh, deputy commissioner of police, Zone-2, took over in August 2018 attempts to downplay the focus on KP.
“It was election time and preventive action was our priority. Now that it is over, we are concentrating on normal policing,” says DCP Singh. “Whenever we get information, we work on it immediately. All these cases are handled by either a senior police inspector (PI) or a Crime PI,” he added.
On Tuesday night, one woman was rescued from a service apartment in Liberty Society located on North Main road, KP. This happened three days after five girls were freed from a prostitution racket operating in KP.
Three were rescued from the Oasis saloon and spa massage centre on May 2. The police arrested Vishal Pandit, 21, a resident of Koregaon Park and his aide Aditya Sulaiman, 21, both of whom worked there.
In the second case on the same day, two women hailing from Gujarat and West Bengal were rescued in a raid at a five-star establishment in Koregaon Park.
However, police have still not identified the pimp in this case.
As part of a larger investigation, police have a list of hotels and lodgings, in KP and across the city, that have repeatedly been used by clients to meet sex workers.
“We have a few places on our watch,” he added.
“The goal,” according to DCP Singh, “is to unravel a bigger picture and find the source of the trafficking.”
Hotels aware, but cannot do much more
Pune Hoteliers Association has 70 hotels registered under it, from 3 star to 5 star destinations.
Sharan Shetty, vice-president of Pune Hoteliers Association, believes that these unlawful happenings are predominantly taking place at “stand-alone, smaller” hotels.
“This trend is often seen in smaller hotels and more so in the stand alone service hotels working in the lanes of Koregaon Park and Kalyani Nagar,” says Shetty, adding, “As an association, we are not aware of our member hotels doing any such thing. We are happy to support the police in their investigations, but we cannot stop hotel management from working at an individual level. We have asked our members to be aware and be alert. If they find anything suspicious, then the hotel has the right to ask the customer to leave.”
Ganesh Shetty, Pune Restaurateurs Association, adds, “If the customer is above 18 years of age we cannot do anything more than ask for identification. Our role is only to record arrival and check out. They come to the hotel on their own accord and we cannot stop them from using the hotel.”
First Published: Jun 12, 2019 14:50 IST