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Porn peddlers’ secret hideaway exposed

Cars parked in Sharjah’s sandy areas are being used to stash pornographic movies. XPRESS sting operation blows the lid off seedy CD racket

By Mazhar Farooqui, Deputy Editor
January 2, 2013
Image Credit: XPRESS/Mazhar Farooqui

SHARJAH: When Indian IT professional Ashwin Mathur, 40, asked his 11-year-old son to put a picnic hamper in his car, he was in for a nasty shock.

As the sedan boot was slammed shut, out popped an innocuous-looking plastic bag with something in it. “It was stuck in the rear mudguard and fell on impact. Out of curiosity, my son brought it into the car. To our sheer horror, it contained pornographic CDs. There were dozens of them and they had explicit images. My entire family was in the car. It was very embarrassing,” recalled Mathur.

 

He is not the only Rolla resident going red-faced for no fault of his. Ask any motorist using sandy car parks in Sharjah’s popular neighbourhood and he’ll have a similar story.

Of late, there has been a series of crackdowns on porn peddlers in Sharjah. In one such operation last month, police busted an Indian man and seized 5,000 pornographic movies from him.

Wise to the ways of the police, the peddlers don’t carry the CDs with them anymore. Instead, they hide them under the mud flaps of parked cars and hang around on the prowl for customers.

Once a deal is struck, all they need to do is pull out the stock from beneath the car. Unsold CDs are kept back.

The tactic works well; it doesn’t arouse suspicion and entails minimum risk.

Slip-ups like what happened in Mathur’s case are rare because the peddlers pick their cars carefully. “They keep tabs on us and know how long our vehicles will remain parked. Should a car owner return, they are quick to retrieve their wares. Abandoned cars or those whose owners have gone on vacation are their best bet,” said a resident overlooking a sandy car park along Al Arooba Street.

To expose the seedy CD business, this XPRESS reporter staked out at a sandy park in Rolla posing as a customer.

Within minutes, three peddlers approached. “You want sexy CDs? We’ve all kinds…Indian, English, Arabic – very good copies. Only Dh5,” said a 30-something clean-shaven Asian man in a brown jacket.

“I got Dabangg2, Life of Pi, Talaash…you want it?” enquired a younger peddler. “I’ve sexy movies also… A-one quality,” he added on an afterthought.

As soon as a deal was struck, the brown jacket man hurried to a white sedan parked nearby, knelt down and quickly fished out a green plastic bag packed with porn and pirated CDs, blissfully unaware of a hidden camera capturing all the action.

Glancing surreptitiously, he took out the titles one by one and asked me to take my pick.

Behind me, his compatriot dashed to an SUV and returned with a different set of titles.

After a quick sale, the CDs were shoved back into their hideaways.

Obviously the residents are not amused to see their cars become part of a thriving racket.

“They are a menace. My car is used to stash away pirated CDs and there is nothing I can do about it. I objected one day and the following day there were big scratch marks on my car,” said a 42-year-old Arab executive who lives with his wife and three children near Arab Bank. “I’ve complained to the police several times, but by the time they show up, the gang members vanish,” he said.

An Indian woman driver said she was mortified when a peddler asked her to wait so he can take out a CD bag hidden in her car underbelly.

“I had just turned on the ignition when a man tapped at my window and gestured to wait. I saw him in the side mirror plucking out a bag from under my car,” she said.

Yet for all this, not all smut peddlers rely on cars. A CD hawker, perhaps part of the same gang, was seen using garbage bins while his more ingenious partner was caught on camera stashing away the illegal merchandise in a central gas metre box on the KM Trading building wall.

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