Police bust Indian-run sex racket in Kathmandu (Lead)November 11th, 2009 - 3:20 pm ICT by IANS
By Sudeshna Sarkar
Kathmandu, Nov 11 (IANS) Nepal police have busted a major call girl racket being run by an Indian with tentacles in major Indian metros and with audacious plans to expand internationally. This comes within a week of police uncovering a Chinese sex workers’ network here.
Manish Sharma of New Delhi began running the call girl racket in Kathmandu about two months ago, police said. In India, his operations cover New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Goa, authorities said.
Sharma apparently used a web site - www.nepalsexguide.com - and an alias, “Mr John”, to run his “escort agency” that claimed to have “beautiful Nepali woman and Asian escorts”. The “agency” also claimed to have 40 girls “offering companionship to businessmen and discerning gentlemen at five-star hotels or exclusive residences”. The fee claimed ranged from Rs.15,000 to Rs.100,000 for “celebrities”.
In Nepal, the “collection of thrilling beauties”, the “agency” boasted, included “college students, aspiring and established models, young professionals” and even members of the Nepali film industry who had the “best bodies” and “eager to satisfy clients’ every desire”.
John’s modus operandi was to screen clients carefully after they contacted his agency either through the two mobile phone numbers listed on the web site or by e-mail. Prospective clients were carefully vetted with a quick background check, so that “we ascertain our compatibility before meeting”, as John put it.
Prospective clients were also assured their personal information would be “treated with the utmost respect” and their privacy never compromised.
However, two clients had a rude shock Monday when police conducted a sting operation and netted them along with four women.
The two Nepali men, both in their early 30s, were caught with a 19-year-old student who had come to Kathmandu from southern Nepal for higher studies. One of the men runs a manpower agency in Kathmandu, police said.
The other three women include John’s Nepal aide, 35-year-old Sangeeta Shrestha, and two young women also working as “escorts”.
While one of them is 18, the other is 22 and was enrolled in a training course for air hostesses.
Police said they stumbled on the website soon after it was opened and tried to contact the aide. However, she was extremely cautious. The moment she realised the caller was Nepali, she rang off.
Finally, police pressed an Indian male into helping them out. In an elaborate set-up, the man checked into a five-star hotel in the capital and called up the agency.
The woman, reassured on hearing a “foreigner”, asked for time, saying she’d call him back. She rang back two hours later after checking him out.
The coached Indian caller then haggled with her and a deal was fixed at Rs.10,000. Within an hour, Shrestha and two women had reached the hotel, where they were arrested.
On the basis of information received from them, police raided an apartment in another part of the capital, where they caught the two Nepali men with the 19-year-old.
Nepal’s police began the crackdown on international sex trade Nov 4 when a nocturnal raid in one of the best locations of the capital netted them six Chinese sex workers along with six Nepali customers.
According to Superintendent Nabaraj Silwal, Kathmandu is increasingly being eyed as a lucrative operational centre by prostitutes from abroad: India, Russia, China, Palestine and some African countries. Most of them fly in from Delhi, spend about a week in Kathmandu and then return.
The growing sex trade is also fuelling crime, violence and the use of alcohol and drugs, police said.
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