'They came to earn money'
In a month-long investigation, Bhupen Patel and Kranti Vibhute went undercover to reveal a dark world where girls as young as 15 are sold to rich Arabs for a few days to be their 'wives' and qazis perform sham marriages to make a quick buck
Nov 29, 2012
Location: Outside Rajdootand Pals Hotel in Cotton Green
After meeting a series of informers and residents of south Mumbai, we got the first lead about the racket outside Rajdoot and Pals Hotel in Cotton Green.
We met two burkha-clad women emerging from hotel Rajdoot, which is a prominent destination for Arabs. After a formal introduction, we returned to the hotel to meet the girls again. On the second meeting, they opened up and revealed that they were residents of Hyderabad and had come to Mumbai in search of agents who could ‘marry’ them to Arabs.
After hunting for agents for nearly a week, the women, Razia and Shazia, had run out of cash and had made up their minds to return to their respective homes empty handed.
During our conversation with them, the two gave us details of the third victim, Mumtaz who had escorted them to Mumbai. For the operation, we took help of a localite, Ashraf Mansoor Khan to make inroads into the murky world of short-term marriages..
Ashraf: Kab aaye tum log.
Razia: Ek hafta hua.
Ashraf: Ek hafte mein wapas jaa rahe ho.
Razia: Darr lagta hai yahan pe.
Ashraf: Kyun darr lag raha hai?
Razia: Pehli bar aaye hai na.
Ashraf: Aise kaise akele aa gaye? Koi to laya hoyenga na? Ek dum bara bar dongri mein Rajdoot hotel ke paas.
Razia: Woh jo thi naa (talking about the third victim) unko malumaat hai.
Ashraf: Yahin rehti hai?
Razia: Nahin, Hyderabad mein rehti hai.
Ashraf: Woh (referring to the third victim) jo hai kahan par rehti hai?
Razia: Hum log ke saath mein rehti hai.
Ashraf: Kahan par?
Razia: Bhendi bazaar mein?
Ashraf: Bhendi bazaar mein kidhar?
Razia: Nahin maloom. Andar galiyon mein hai bahut?
Ashraf: Guest house hai kya koi?
Razia: Haan guest house hai. Maine aapse is liye baat ki kyunki koi dil ki baat batayega to madad karega na?
Throughout our conversation with Razia, her friend Shaiza waited outside the hotel pretending to talk to her family members. After Razia escorted her inside the restaurant, she sobbed constantly. As we tried to console her, Shazia revealed that she wanted to go back home.
Narrating her dilemma she claimed that she felt humiliated for being paraded in front of an Arab. She had come to Mumbai to earn some money, so that she could take care of her family in Hyderabad, she said.
(Names changed to protect identities)