Sixteen after two sisters were detained on suspicion of being involved in prostitution under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA) during a police raid at a restaurant,they were released by the Special PITA court on Wednesday. However,the court observed that one of the sisters was well acquainted with one of the accused,Mohan Tolani,and apparently knew most of the girls at the party,which did not seem like a birthday party.
Tolani and the sisters in their defence had claimed that they were attending a friends birthday party and were wrongly detained by the Social Service Branch of the Mumbai Police,which had also picked up nine other women from the restaurant in Andheri on June 5. Nine of the 11 girls were released. The others,one minor and the other unwilling to return to her family,will remain in the correction home.
Stating that the sisters had a family to look after,Special Magistrate S B Mahale said in the order that the son of one of the women,an autistic child,is in need of love,affection and care of his mother. The order directed the families of each woman to give an undertaking that they would ensure that proper care and protection is provided to them and none will indulge in any activity prohibited under the PITA.
Though the order does not specify whether the girls had been asked to gather at the spot as part of a possible prostitution racket,it carries excerpts of the rescued womens depositions,which indicate that most of them knew Tolani for a long time. Many were aspiring to be a part of movies,TV serials and dance shows and knew Tolani as a film producer. Most girls have soured relationships with their families and are staying away from them. It is difficult to say if these girls were going to be pushed into flesh trade,but their presence at the spot is questionable. Also,the girls versions differ. Everyone had an entirely different story about why they were called to the spot, said probation officer Neeru Sharma.
However,the court observed contradictions in the submissions made by Anand Jondhale,the defence lawyer of the sisters. Jondhale had claimed that his clients did not know the other girls at the party and had only been to Tolanis birthday at a restaurant. The court said the woman who flew from Delhi to Mumbai a night before the incident claimed there was no special occasion for the party while her sister,who lives in Mumbai for her autistic childs treatment,was acquainted with other women in the party.
The 11 women were staying at the correction home in Chembur for the last two weeks. After the correction home received a copy of the order,the nine women were released on verification, said advocate Amole Vaje.
Relieved to have his wife out,the husband of one of the sisters said,Only we know what we have been through in the last two weeks. It is a huge relief.
Our personal and professional lives have gone for a toss. It was miserable in the Sudhar Grih; the other girls too faced hardships there, said one of the sisters.