Three days after Vijay Jadhav,18,was picked up from a video parlour in Dagad Chawl in Madanpura,Mumbai Central,while allegedly watching a pornographic film,locals said all video parlours in the area had shut down. Although the Nagpada police claim that the parlours in Dagad Chawl were unauthorised and non-functional,residents said the parlours were open before Saturday.
Jadhav,the third arrested suspect in the gangrape of the 22-year-old photojournalist in Shakti Mills Compound,was found asleep in a video parlour in Dagad Chawl around 2.30 am Saturday. Police sources said he had watched two films earlier and had dozed off mid-way through a third.
Dagad Chawl,a narrow lane not far from City Mall in Mumbai Central,is better known for its numerous workshops that manufacture leather bags. Hidden among the units,though,are at least three video parlours. Locals say the parlour owners downed shutters since Saturday and havent been seen since.
The parlours are unauthorised and have been not been functioning. The closure has nothing to do with Jadhavs arrest, said senior inspector Nandkumar Mehetar.
On Monday,when this newspaper visited the parlour where the police claim to have picked up Jadhav from,it was empty but open. Inside the room was a large pull-down screen and seating space on the floor for at least 30 people.
With the owner nowhere in sight,two goats were the only occupants of the parlour on Monday evening. A minute later,a man pulled down the parlours shutter. Abdul Kadir (27),who runs a paan shop outside,said he hadnt seen the owner since Saturday. The parlour has been operational for at least five years but hasnt opened since Saturday. Most of the clientele of the parlours in this lane are the employees of the leather units who go there in the evening after finishing work, he said.
A former officer of the Social Service Branch (SSB) of Mumbai Police said,however,that the closure meant little. Under the guise of video parlours,the people running these places show porn films. It is difficult to get evidence unless they are caught red-handed. They are so adept at avoiding detection that they can easily switch between a regular and a porn film with the push of a button. They also break the porn film CD after each screening, he said.
Video parlours,he added,require licences from the shop and establishments department from BMC and Mumbai Police. He estimates that while there are at least 5000 parlours operating illegally,only about 100 had licences. Even these have only the BMC license. All you need to set up a parlour is a room,a screen and the film. The unauthorised ones do not sell tickets as this require maintaining accounts. They charge Rs 10 or Rs 15 for entry. A lot of minors also enter these parlours as entry is not regulated, he said.