Asian Dancers Are Lured into Prostitution ; Teenage Exponents of `Mujra', a Traditional Dance Form, Are Being Brought to Britain from India and Pakistan and Forced into the Sex Trade

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POLICE ARE investigating the growth of illicit "mujra" clubs in London, Bradford and Leicester for which teenage dancers are imported from India and Pakistan in the service of a multimillion- pound sex industry.

Smuggled into Britain, the girls perform corrupted versions of traditional Asian dances to Bollywood soundtracks in bars and restaurants. But the performance is merely a showcase for the real business - prostitution. Promoters can earn more than pounds 10,000 a night, while the girls are lucky to receive pocket money.

Until recently, most police officers, even those in Scotland Yard's Clubs and Vice Unit, had no idea of the existence of mujra. But the brutal murder of one of its leading promoters has changed that, leading detectives to call on British Asians to come forward with information about the clubs.

Tahir Butt was promoting a group of 16 young dancers from Pakistan, but in March last year he was found strangled, his corpse set alight. Mr Butt owned a successful restaurant in Wembley, north London, and had staged a show shortly before his murder.

A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed: "Mujra is one of our lines of inquiry. It is an exotic form of dancing in the Asian community which in some cases is being used as a front for the sex industry. We believe that it also takes place in other areas with large Asian communities, such as Leicester, Bradford and Birmingham.

"It is not something that is talked about openly and we are hoping people from within the Asian community will come forward and help us."

Performances are given after normal closing hours in venues popular with Asian customers. The only advertising is by word of mouth or occasionally by discreet posters.

"The business is extremely lucrative and it is possible to make up to pounds 10,000 a night," said an officer investigating Mr Butt's death. "The girls will charge between pounds 5 and pounds 10 for a personal dance and then more for a private arrangement later. The girls wear traditional dress and perform classical dances. …