DCP bungalow home to spa sex racket
By: Vinay Dalvi
Probe reveals that spa, where prostitution den was flourishing, had been rented out to its owner by one of city's top cops, Nandkumar Chougule. |
An intense two-week-long investigation to trace a flourishing prostitution racket to its source has led the police to an address owned by one of their own men.
Spa-cial treatment: No action has been taken against Nandkumar
Chougule (right) for renting out the bungalow (left) that has been
converted into a spa. Pic/ Milind Karekar
A raid conducted by officers of the Social Service (SS) Branch at the Cleopatra Day Spa located in Seven Bungalows, Andheri (West) -- and subsequent investigations -- have revealed that the proprietor of the MHADA plot is one of the guardians of law and order in the city -- the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Nandkumar Chougule.
Chougule had rented out the plot to Saroj Bhakuni, who allegedly converted it to a swank spa, only to use it as a front for her dubious trade.
While cops have been quick to register an FIR against Bhakuni and two of her colleagues who were assisting her in operating the racket. But they seem to be dragging their feet when it comes to booking one of their own men.
Dirty Picture: Nandkumar Chougule had rented out the plot to Saroj
Bhakuni, who allegedly converted it to a swank spa. Police officials said
that the staff members of the spa used to liaise with regular customers
and dispatch female sex-trade workers to offer their services.
Going by precedents set by similar investigations in the past, it is customary for the SS Branch to book and arrest the proprietors of the premises found running prostitution rackets. But inside sources claim that the officers of the SS branch have capitulated to the mounting pressure put on it by the DCP, and shoved the matter under the proverbial carpet, refraining from forwarding the shocking piece of information to their superiors.
Investigations carried out by MiD DAY have revealed that the bungalow is registered under the name of Chougule's wife Madhuri.
However, it is Chougule who handles all the paperwork on behalf of his spouse. Chougule had rented out the plot to Bhakuni on the basis of a leave-and-license agreement.
The latter then took permission to run a spa in the premises, but appears to have used it as cover for what was in reality the headquarter of a sex-trade racket.
"More than seven girls involved in the flesh trade were rescued from the premises, during the raid on December 10. We have arrested the spa owner, Saroj Bhakuni, and two of her colleagues under the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act. The details regarding the ownership of the bungalow have been forwarded to the local police station, where officers are making further investigations," said an officer from the SS branch, on condition of anonymity.
"Chougule was unaware of what was happening within the premises of the property owned by him. There is a clearly articulated clause in the agreement, which unequivocally states that if any illegal activities are carried out within the bungalow, Chougule is free to terminate the agreement," said a police officer from Versova police station.
On December 10, the SS Branch sent one of its officers as a decoy customer to the Cleopatra Day Spa, after receiving a tip-off about the illegal activities thriving within the premises.
When the decoy corroborated the information received in the tip-off, officials swooped in and arrested Bhakuni and her accomplices, invoking the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act.
The arresting team also recovered a cheque worth Rs 36,000, two bill books and cash worth Rs 64,700 cash from the counter. All three accused were produced before a court and were remaded in police custody till
Investigating officials divulged that the staff members of the spa used to liaise with regular customers and dispatch female sex-trade workers to offer their services.
The other side
When contacted, Chougule refused to comment on the matter. When the Commissioner of Police was contacted after a slew of phone calls and messages, he said, "I will check and revert."