New Delhi: Having trafficked over 5,000 women over 20 years and forced them into prostitution, a couple in Delhi built a sprawling empire until they ran out of luck this week.
Afaq Hussain, 50, and his wife Saira Begum, 45, kingpins at Delhi's notorious red light area GB Road, have been arrested and charged under the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act so it will be more difficult for them to get out of jail on bail.
They allegedly ran three brothels and owned a third of the business in the area. Five of their assistants have also been arrested.
They are suspected to have traded in women from Nepal, Bengal, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. These women, the police say, were forced to live like animals in tunnel-like structures until they gave in and agreed to prostitution.
Around 250 women worked for the couple; Afaq and Saira managed to come out on bail every time they were arrested because the laws for trafficking are not strong enough, the police say.
Several luxury cars and Rs 9 lakh in cash were found during raids on the couple. They own around a dozen properties, including a farmhouse in Delhi and a property in Bengaluru sold recently for Rs 4 crores.
Young women were "bought" for amounts ranging from Rs 50,000 to two lakh, the police say, adding that the couple's bank balance runs to crores.
"Everyone knows that there are illegal activities at GB road. But we did an in-depth study and identified several crime syndicates there who work in an organized manner," said senior Delhi Police officer Ravinder Yadav.
Afaq and Saira Hussain's gang is among the three that manage most of the sex trade in the area. The first such gang was busted last week.
Saira, who is from Hyderabad, became a sex worker when she came to Delhi and failed to get a job.
She met Hussain at a brothel and married him in 1999. They were involved in several illegal activities.