Two months ago, when Amravati-based Pramila Handa received a telephone bill of Rs 40 lakh, she thought her service provider had made a mistake. Last week, the 55-year-old assistant to a local doctor was knocked out of her wits when police arrested her for non-payment of bills, and for making calls to Europe, United States and Australia for phone sex, says a Mumbai Mirror report.
Investigations later revealed that it was her nephew, 32-year-old Thane resident, Amit Wankhede, who had procured four BSNL sim cards using her documents and made hundreds of international calls for sex chats. Wankhede had also taken three sim cards in his own name and run up bills of Rs 12 lakh. Almost all calls were traced to sex chat hotlines in 20 different countries.
According to the Amravati police, Wankhede also got in touch with girls through the internet and invited them to visit India. It hasn't been verified if any of them actually came to meet him. "He used to talk to these girls in various chat rooms and social networking sites. He was a habitual porn site surfer and his phone directory had numbers of many foreign women. How many of these girls actually visited India is still being investigated," an officer from Amravati police told Mumbai Mirror.
In October last year, poilce said, Wankhede asked his aunt Pramila Handa to give him her identity and address documents because he wanted to subscribe to some newspapers. Handa did not doubt his intentions because Wankhede was staying in Amravati with two friends and did not have proper residential proof.
Within only 20 days of taking the sim cards, Wankhede ran up bills of Rs 52 lakh. The connections were suspended by BSNL and, in November, Handa was sent bills of Rs 40 lakh for the four cards registered in her name. Handa ignored them because she did not recognise the numbers listed on the bill.
Handa was sent two notices by BSNL before the company lodged a criminal complaint against her last week. The police arrested Handa on Wednesday, and though the officers did find it suspicious that a woman would make so many international calls for phone sex, the evidence against her seemed foolproof.
Things changed dramatically when Wankhede went to visit Handa in the lock-up, and she suddenly remembered that he had taken documents from her. She immediately told the cops and Wankhede confessed to his crime during interrogation.
When contacted, Amravati's Commissioner of Police Amitesh Kumar said: “The matter is under investigation and is progressing in the right direction. At present, Pramila is in police custody and a decision will be taken only after investigations are complete.”
Since Wankhede also has two cheating cases registered in his name at APMC police station, the Amravati police handed him over to Navi Mumbai police on Friday. “He had acquired a vehicle for seven lakhs and taken a loan from a bank in Navi Mumbai but failed to pay back the loan. We are now investigating if he has acquired any sim cards from here also as he was a habitual offender,” said PI DD Tele of APMC police station.
A former member of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Wankhede was sacked by the organisation two years ago for “shirking work”, the VHP's Thane general secretary Vikram Bhoir said.