They weren’t the Dear Diary entries the police were hoping to stumble upon. A diary of an assistant operations manager of Western Railway who was caught red-handed running a prostitution racket from his railway quarters at Marine Lines late on Saturday allegedly contains the mobile phone numbers of over 3,500 people, including those of girls engaged in the flesh trade.
Besides 55-year-old Babulal Verma’s diary, the police have seized Rs1.09 lakh in cash, his cellphone, identity card and power bill as well as photographs of 16 girls from him.
The police say they hit upon the plan to send a decoy to trap Verma after receiving a tip-off that the railway quarters was doubling as a prostitution den. Once the ‘client’ struck a deal with him and Rs2,500 — Verma’s cut — changed hands, a team comprising social service branch (SSB) personnel of the Mumbai police raided the premises.
“Four girls and our decoy were found in the three-bedroom-hall-kitchen flat. One of the girls is only 17,” says an officer who was part of the raid.
Throwing light on the Verma’s modus operandi, the girls told the police he fixed deals, including the ‘going price’ of each girl, with clients and took half the money as his commission. The SSB officer says Verma will be interrogated to get him to spill details of his racket — names of other girls involved, his accomplices and customers. “He is a class II railway employee and it looks like he has made a lot of money through this racket.”
On Sunday, Verma and the four girls were produced before a court, which remanded the railway employee in police custody. The girls, who were granted bail, claimed that they were falsely implicated in the case.