But one day last month, unknown to his family and friends, Sumit's obsession with the net took a decisive turn. He decided to use it to fool around with the girls in his class and teachers. Surfing overtime on the net at home, he carefully hosted a pornographic website listing imaginary physical attributes and sexual 'preferences' of girls and teachers in his school. He chose to call it amazing-gents.8m.net, which gave little hint of what was in store. Then he boasted about it to his friends, and the 'prank' turned serious. A girl's parent complained to the cops, and last week, Sumit landed up in a juvenile remand home; the first arrest for cyberporn in India. Four debate-filled days later, amidst reports that he'd floated the website to get even with friends who teased him for a skin condition, Sumit was released on bail and rusticated from the prominent Delhi school he went to.
Far away in Calcutta, Anjali Das and Barnali Gupta's virtual tryst with two boys in a crowded chatroom turned into a nightmarish experience. Regulars at a cybercafe near their home, the two 18-year-olds decided to have fun, trying to find "nice guys" on the net. Their search stopped with two boys who called themselves Dev and Mathew. In three days, the boys had managed to impress the girls and ask them out for a dinner date near a subway station. On a sultry March evening, the two boys pulled up in a Santro and asked the girls in. First, Dev suggested that the four retire to his apartment, an offer the girls refused. Finally, after dinner at a restaurant, they stopped for some ice-cream on the riverfront. As Dev and Barnali went to fetch ice-cream, Mathew tried to molest Anjali in the car. It was only her screams for help that attracted some passing hawkers who rushed to the car. In the ensuing chaos, the two girls hailed a taxi and rushed home. "This is not an isolated case. We've heard of such things happening," says Banibrata Basu, Calcutta's deputy commissioner of the detective department.