The revelation has been reported by a leading national English daily, which claims that the state's round-the-clock police helpline number is flooded with complaints from women about unsolicited calls. The helpline has reportedly registered 1.6 million complaints in the last four years with 90% of them being related to harassment of women through unsolicited calls.
The newspaper Hindustan Times claims that "the numbers are shared from recharge outlets where unscrupulous recharge agents save the numbers and then pass them on to those willing to pay. The number of someone considered ‘beautiful' can command as much as INR 500 ($8). The selling price for the number of an "ordinary looking girl" fetches INR 50 (less than a dollar).
What's ironical, virtually no one has been arrested in cases related to harassment via unsolicited calls despite laws to deal with such cases. The police just lets off unscrupulous recharge agents with stern warning. Their defense: our jails will overflow if those trading in mobile numbers have to be booked.
The report has caused a massive outrage among women and civil society organizations who are advocating strong action and better measures to ensure privacy for women users.
The crime amounts to a "breach of trust", says Akhilesh Bansal, a criminal lawyer from Delhi.
"Selling the information provided on the assumption of trust is a criminal offense under the Indian laws. The punishment could go as high as seven years in jail," Bansal told Sputnik.