The Delhi police has arrested a woman “owner” of several brothels at GB Road for “trafficking minor girls and forcing them into the flesh trade”. Shahnaz Begum, 40, who started as a sex worker at GB Road and became the “owner” of brothel numbers 64 and 40, and a few others, hails from Andhra Pradesh and had been evading arrest for long, police sources said.
In 2012, a case was registered by Delhi Police after rescuing a minor girl from Nepal who was forced into prostitution at a GB Road brothel. As the “owner” of the brothel, Begum was identified as the prime accused in the case, but due to her “networks”, she could not be nabbed, sources said.
Begum escaped when police conducted raids at her brothels, but she visited frequently to collect money. It was on one such visit that police arrested Begum. There are at least three more cases registered against Begum which are being investigated, said sources in the Kamla Market police station.
Begum is not the only “owner” who runs GB Road brothels. There is no record of who “owns” the 93 brothels on GB Road that house around 3,500 sex workers. Swati Maliwal, chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW), said, “It is shocking that no one knows who owns these brothel buildings. There is no information on who receives the revenue and where the money goes. The former SHO of Kamla Market, Rakesh Kumar Sharma, had written letters to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), North MCD, BSES Yamuna Power Ltd. and others to ascertain the real owners of the brothels. The Registrar’s Office of District Central had informed Sharma that unless transaction details of the properties are provided, they cannot ascertain the owners. BSES also informed Sharma that records of ownership of electricity connections are not readily available and are old and dumped in their office. After Sharma brought this to our notice, we asked the DJB to register the brothel buildings and supply water to them.” According to sources, the brothels at GB Road at present do not receive water from the DJB, but through independent submersibles installed underground.
Maliwal said, “Arresting some stooge will not end the problem. The owners of these brothels are connected to larger human trafficking rackets.”
Last month, Delhi Police had arrested three women “managers” of GB Road brothels after rescuing a 16-year-old girl along with her nephew from brothel number 5211. The operations were led by Sharma, who has been transferred from Kamla Market police station where he was appointed only 3-4 months back. The Police department said that it was a “routine transfer”. Maliwal said, “Sharma was doing a real good job. His transfer is unfortunate.”