Mumbai: A casting couch racket that forced aspiring actresses and models into prostitution has been busted in Mumbai with the arrest of three persons, including a casting director, while eight models were rescued from a posh hotel, a crime branch official said on Wednesday. Police recovered Rs 5.59 lakh cash, 15 mobile phone handsets, and a car during the raid on Tuesday.
As per preliminary information, the rescued models had worked in various advertisements, movies and in some web series, the official said. Acting on a specific information, the police’s Crime Intelligence Unit conducted a raid on the hotel located near the Juhu beach in western suburbs on Tuesday, he said.
During the raid, the police rescued eight models who were being forced into prostitution, the official said. The arrested persons included one Prem, who is a casting director-cum-film producer, and two women pimps, he said, adding that one of the arrested women hails from West Bengal.
The rescued women told police that Prem pushed them into flesh trade by promising them roles in movies and by offering break as models, he said. “Clients used to contact the members of the racket through various websites,” he said.
The official said a police personnel contacted a given contact number by posing as a customer and deposited Rs 2 lakh in the (bank) account number provided by Prem. “As pre-decided, the woman was to come to the hotel in Juhu on Tuesday. A trap was laid by the crime branch team with officials of Social Service branch of police who raided the room and nabbed Prem and two women pimps,” he said.
Prem’s interrogation revealed that at least ten women, including eight models, are part of the prostitution ring, he said. “Police have rescued the eight models who, prima facie, had worked in several commercials, movies and also in some web series. The rescued women told the police that the accused persons pushed them into prostitution in return of roles as actors and offering break as models,” he said.
Prem and the two women were booked under the Prevention of Immoral Trafficking Act (PITA) along with various sections of the Indian Penal Code, he said. An FIR has been registered at Juhu police station, he said.