Lucknow: It is 10.30 am and most of the shops in the Naka Hindola market — known as the grey market for electronic goods in Lucknow — are not yet open.
Inside a dusty lane, a man peeps from behind a half open shutter and says ‘Paanch local film chahiye. Achche wale. Sham ko aaunga (I need five local films. I’ll come in the evening)’ and walks off.
The ‘local film’, as it means here, is a rape video that has now become the fastest selling commodity there. Rape videos, many of them filmed in an amateurish manner, are clandestinely sold only to known customers and come in a blank cover. To make the business more discreet, most of the videos come in pen drives.
Video recording a rape is no longer meant only for blackmail; it has become a good business proposition.
The business is flourishing right under the nose of the Naka Hindola police station which is barely 500 metres away from these shops. Sources claim the cops receive a hefty amount on a monthly basis for allowing the business to continue.
Rakesh (name changed) who runs the sleaze business explains, “The days of pirated films are over. Nowadays rape videos are in demand. Filming a rape has become popular. The duration is anything between 10 minutes and 30 minutes and the video is sold for anywhere between Rs 300 and Rs 500, depending on how explicit it is”.
Rape videos are made available to public by various ‘agents’. “Our men buy these videos for Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 and we ‘clean’ the clips before putting them out in the market. ‘Clean up’ means blurring of rapist’s face but not the victims. Those with an audio track (read screams) are more expensive,” says Rakesh. Sellers in Lucknow claim to sell 100 to 200 ‘local films’ every day.
The demand for these clips has grown to such an extent that buyers come from adjoining states like Madhya Pradesh and Bihar with ‘bulk orders’. Sellers in Lucknow claim to sell 100 to 200 ‘local films’ every day. Those in the business say that their customers are mostly boys and students and those with political links. The cops, meanwhile, feign ignorance. However, one senior police official said, “In more than 50 per cent of cases, the victims complain that the act was filmed by the accused but the police never register the case under IT Act.”