Over Ninety percent of the six lakh calls made by women across Uttar Pradesh to the women’s helpline number 1090, are about being harassed by stalkers on the phone. Recent reports have surfaced on social media stating that the mobile numbers of girls are being sold from the recharge outlets across UP for a price based on their looks. The contact details are being used by men to harass the girls over the phone.
The racket came to light when the police helpline number 1090 for women was flooded with complaints from women about unsolicited calls.
Many men who sought to entice women with the preferred opening line “I want to make friendship with you” or “humain aapse dosti karni hai” got the numbers from outlets where girls go to recharge their mobile phones.
The shopkeepers of the stores save the numbers and pass them on to those who are willing to pay. The contact detail of someone considered ‘beautiful’ may command up to Rs 500 while the selling price of the contact of an ‘ordinary looking girl’ fetches Rs 50.
In one of the confessions, Mohammed a 24-year from Shahjahanpur said, “My favourite recharge shop is run by a father-son duo. My friends and I go there when the father is away. We take the numbers and strike friendships. Sometimes, we send vulgar pictures over Whatsapp,” as reported by Hindustan Times.
Being a mobile recharge agent is easy. All it takes is filling a form and depositing a security amount with an agency. This agency is a mediator between the individual and the mobile service operator.
One of the girls said that the calls were abusive and very offensive. Ironically, selling or buying women’s contact details has not landed anyone in jail so far.
The Police officials say that the prisons will overflow if those trading in selling contact details have to be booked.
The officials manning the helpline usually let the men off by giving them warnings.
“I call the men. They are all kind of young, old, teenagers, urban, rural, unemployed or working. Some say ‘I dialled the number by mistake’ or ‘she is my girlfriend who has stopped talking to me’,” says Rajesh Pratap Yadav who takes around 100 complaints a day.
Avninder Singh, a Criminal Lawyer, feels that more stringent laws are to be needed as this is a breach of trust. The woman shares the number with the recharge person on the assumption of trust. If the shopkeeper sells the information, he is guilty of exchanging that privilege, and this offence is punishable by as much as seven years in jail.
Such calls cause mental and emotional trauma to women, more so when the callers are abusive and send vulgar images. While we do not have the infrastructure to help all the women, we should have the strict implementation of laws for such privacy breaches. The Logical Indian requests the authorities to take action against the people who are selling the numbers. Their license to recharge should be revoked.