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Now, IDs for prostitutes

"What," asked the man, "do T N Seshan and Khairati Lal Bhola have in common?"

Naturally, you can't figure it out. Seshan, you have heard of; but who is this Bhola character (no offence intended)?

You confess your ignorance, mouthing the expected, "What?"

"ID cards!" grins the man.

ID cards? Yeah, you know about the former chief election commissioner's bulldozer-efforts to issue I-cards to the whole nation. (You also know how it came unstuck in between, but that is another matter.)

So Bhola too is issuing ID cards? But who is he?

"Bhola," the man explains, "is a social activist, the Bharatiya Patita Uddar Sabha president..."

The voluntary organisation, the man explains, is planning to provide identity cards to 2.3 million prostitutes across the country. In fact, they have already started the process in Surat, handing cards to 300 flesh traders there.

The idea is to protect them from police harassment and to check their children from entering the trade. The Sabha, working for the welfare and rehabilitation of the unfortunate women in 1,100 red light areas, has conveyed the proposal to Home Minister Indrajit Gupta. Further, it has prepared a list of prostitutes in Delhi to whom cards will be issued shortly.

"The issue of such cards," says Sabha officials, "would help check the entry of freshers into the trade.":

The organisation's units in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal are now busy drawing up a list of flesh traders of their area. In his letter to Gupta, Bhola has urged the home ministry to issue a directive to these states to help his organisation carry out its work.

In a separate letter to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu, Bhola sought his intervention in stopping police atrocities on red light area residents in Hyderabad. Many of them, Bhola says, have been forced out of the Mehboob Ki Kehandi area as part of the anti-AIDs drive.

The Hyderabad police had also arrested about 70 women from the area, he said, and demanded their immediate release.


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