Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Cops trip on cafe raids

Cops trip on cafe raids Cops trip on cafe raids - Indian Express UP police haul up 25 youngsters in raids, charge them with obscenity, photograph them... attract charges of harassment AMAN SHARMA LUCKNOW, JANUARY 31 In a typically half-baked operation that showed no lessons had been learnt from similar raids in the past, Lucknow Police were left offering explanations today over their raids on two cyber cafes in Krishna Nagar area in which 25 youngsters, including 10 girls, were hauled up on obscenity charges. The youngsters were mostly from well-to-do families and as their parents landed up at the station demanding an explanation, police were forced to release them by 9 tonight. Most claimed they had been filing resumes or checking their mails when they were apprehended and their photos taken. Under fire over BSP legislator Raju Pal’s murder, the state police hardly needs a scandal of the kind that followed the Aligarh and Agra cyber cafe raids, which had drawn allegations of harassment from arrested youngsters and the NHRC’s attention. Incidentally, today too the media was called in to record the raids despite objections being raised the last time over the way photos of the youths had been displayed all over newspapers and TV. Today’s raids began around 2.45 pm, led by Circle Officer, Alambagh, Shachi Ghildiyal, an IPS officer under training. Ghildiyal says police received complaints from residents of the LDA Colony in Krishna Nagar of ‘‘immoral activities being carried on in internet cafe in the colony’’. ‘‘We sent some of our men to pose as customers and found the information correct. We conducted a raid at Lucknow Internet Cafe and found the adjoining Yash Internet Cafe was also indulging in the same. For Rs 10 per hour, they had virtually given an open licence to sex to these couples inside the cabins,’’ alleged Ghildiyal. The FIR accuses the youths of watching porn websites and sitting in objectionable positions inside the cabins. The owners of the two cafes were arrested and 16 computers were seized. Denying allegations of harassment, Ghildiyal said: ‘‘Besides watching porn websites, couples also had sex inside the small cabins of these cafes. The cabins have high walls and can be bolted from inside. Also the entire first floor of these cafes was only meant for couples, with single girls or boys not allowed there. We found condoms strewn all over an empty plot near the cafes.’’ Ghildiyal admitted that they had ascertained that at least one girl was just typing in her resume, but added the rest of the raid was genuine and that those raising a hue and cry were the same couples who had been found in objectionable positions . ‘‘We called their parents and so they are levelling harassment charges out of embarrassment,’’ she said. ‘‘I was typing my resume, which I had to submit to Lucknow Public School, when police walked in and said I was watching porn. They called up the media, who clicked our photos as if we were criminals. No policeman listened to our pleas,’’ said one of the girls. One of the girls said police made two boys stand outside the cabin in which she was working and the media took photographs. ‘‘It was so humiliating. The policemen had no clue as to what Internet is,’’ she cried.

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