Cops find it tough to bust prostitution networks in Chennai

Chennai: Marina Beach is one of the main tourist attractions in the city. But that’s not all. For visitors walking on the sand bed, it is hard to miss a sea of condoms, especially near the swimming pool complex.

This is perhaps why the city was not in for a big shock when a sex worker was found dead on the beach last week.

Kalaiselvi, it is learnt, was murdered due to ‘business rivalry’. Four persons, including her ‘competitors’ Sandhya and Sheela Priya, were arrested in connection with the murder.

They began losing business when Kalaiselvi entered their zone along with the help of auto drivers Prem Kumar and Shiva. These two men had earlier helped Sandhya and Sheela Priya.

The issue escalated when Kalaiselvi began ignoring the threats issued by the two women and refused to give a daily commission to the automen.

“She came to spot by herself and started calling customers over the phone. She no longer needed their help. This irked the four who plotted to kill her,” said a police source.

The day the incident was reported, the police had hit a dead-end with the investigation. They found a pair of slippers, a few liquor bottles and a hand bag with her mobile phone near her body. They could not establish her identity.

“Pavement dwellers near Kannagi statue identified her. They informed the police that she was a sex worker who slept on the footpath most days and engaged with customers in the night.’ Later ,CCTV visuals helped the police nab the accused.

So, why did the police not crack down on such activities earlier?

“Reports about prostitution are filed regularly. The Deputy Commissioner of Triplicane comes on rounds to the Marina beach. We blare the siren and ‘wash out’ such people from the beach, but after our vehicles leave, they return to the same place. They claim they have no other place to go to,” say sources.

The city police have clear instructions to keep a tab on flesh trade activities. “Every police station surveys the locality. We check if it is happening in houses, in the name of spa or parlours and through online. If we receive any information we carry out a raid,” said a source.

However, the police say the activity is rampant without their knowledge.

“Victims in the age group of 15-16 have been rescued. Apart from beaches, it takes places in areas with more lodges like Vadapalani, Kodambakkam, Egmore, Koyambedu, Triplicane, ECR and Tambaram,” pointed out a source.

Another police source said, “The anti-vice squad carries out detailed investigations. We conduct general lodge checks and take action if any abnormality is found.”

He admits it is tough to act beyond a point as it is done with consent and there is a well-oiled network.

Naomi N