They strike mostly on moonless nights and they strike hard. Firearms are only to scare the victims, their actual weapons are metal rods, hammers and wooden clubs.
Members of nomadic (ghumantu in Hindi) tribes have become “the toughest challenge” for the Noida and Greater Noida police, said Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajiv Narayan Mishra.
“Robber gangs of these wandering tribes are extremely ruthless. They kill their victims over even a few hundred grams of silver jewellery and notorious for raping the female members of a targeted family,” said Mishra.
Officially these gangs are members of de-notified tribes, predominantly belonging to Rajasthan.
The DCP said since October 18 the gangs from the Muslim Banjara tribe have carried out three robberies in Noida and Greater Noida.
In one of these cases, the robbers wiped out a three-member family in Sector 99.
Forty-five-year-old blacksmith Birju (known only by his first name), his wife Indira (40) and daughter Pinki (14) were clubbed to death with hammers and iron pipes.
Sector 39 police station's station house officer Anil Samaniya said while the daughter was raped, the robbers tried to rape the mother.
“They hacked their legs to rob the anklets. The bodies of the parents were found 100 feet from their house. There were indications that the victims had offered stiff resistance to the robbers,” he said.
Within the same week, gangs belonging to the same tribe also robbed two families in Dadri and Ghaziabad, the officer said.
In all the three cases, the gangs escaped with gold and silver jewellery, he said.
Alarmed by the threat posed by these nomadic gangs, the police have now kick-started a project to profile their members genetically.
The DCP said the project is part of a statewide exercise in Uttar Pradesh since the gangs operate across the districts.
The state’s district crime record bureaus are gathering forensic evidence, including fingerprints, footprints and samples of extracts of hair and nail, from hundreds of alleged robbers belonging to these gangs currently lodged in jails.
The project was necessitated by the “deception” such gang members use to avoid identification.
“The members of such gangs would give fake names and addresses to the police on getting caught. The genetic data bank would make it easier to detect their involvement in crimes across the state,” said an officer involved in the information gathering drive but didn’t wish to be named, as he is not authorised to talk.
The gangs — including those belonging to tribes such as Banjara, Bawariya, Pardhi, Aheriya, Sansiya and Bediya — use a simple modus operandi.
The gang members posed as petty salesmen/women hawking cheap articles such as balloons, bangles and plastic toys from door-to-door in daytime to zero in on a wealthy, but relatively easy target. Once the target is selected, the gangs strike, usually between midnight and 5 in the morning by breaking in.
Four members of the gang are in police net at present. They are accused of the three robberies.