In a shocking revelation, it has come to light that owners of recharge shops in Uttar Pradesh are selling the contact details of girls to perverted men who frequent their shops. The phone numbers are sold for prices, ranging anywhere between Rs 50 to Rs 500 depending on the woman’s “beauty”. The astounding crime surfaced as the Uttar Pradesh police noticed a mega spike in complaints pertaining to harassment from women, on the government helpline number ‘1090’.
For a plain looking girl, the mobile recharge shop owners command a price that can be as low as merely Rs 50. For the most beautiful ones, they demand a price as high as Rs 500. The horrific and illegal exchange of personal information is a state-wide phenomenon. After purchasing the phone numbers, the despicable and lewd men harass the women via constant phone calls and message. With phrases such as ‘hum aapse dosti karna chahte hai’ (I want to be friends with you), the calls are persistent and disturbing. Some men even send pornographic images to their victims.
A detailed report by the HT reveals that approximately seven lakh cases have been registered by women on the government helpline number that was set up for reporting cases of harassment. Of the total cases, a disturbing 5,82,824 case pertained to harassment by strangers via phones. The maximum number of complaints were registered from the state capital of Lucknow, followed by the cities of Kanpur Nagar, Allahabad, Varanasi and Agra.
With the telecommunication sector growing incessantly, recharge shops have cropped up like hydras across the state. The “men” running the shops often save the number of a girl when she comes to get her phone recharged. The same number is sold for a premium price. While the act is not an offence by itself, the police have devised an ingenious way to capture the culprits. They instead, go after shop owners who enable the purchase of SIM cards under fake identity. Speaking to the HT Inspector General Sekera said, “Koi crime nahin banega (No crime will be made out). We have booked three recharge guys so far under Section 467 for dealing in false documents.” Police officials are also reported to have said that jails will overflow if those trading in mobile numbers have to be booked.
The report quoted Criminal lawyers such as Avninder Singh as having reacted by saying, “It’s a breach of trust. The woman has shared her phone number with the recharge person on the assumption of trust. If he sells her information, he is guilty of exchanging that privilege for economic advantage, a criminal offense punishable with as much as seven years in jail. He is also abetting phone stalking.”