IT TAKES a thief to catch a thief. Anand Swarup, senior superintendent of Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, will fervently nod to that. He has asked history-sheeters to patrol the badlands of the district — and they will do the rounds in khaki regalia.
“The police will take the help of history-sheeters to track criminals. We've identified parts of Bareilly district where this will be implemented,” said Swarup.
Ironical, you might think. It was just practical, he said, “As police officers, we can only guess and investigate but history-sheeters can guide us to criminals.”
Swarup first carried out the experiment when he was posted at Etah in 2004 and, then, at Ferozabad a year later. At Etah, Swarup divided the area into clusters of 50 shops and asked history-sheeters to patrol the area for eight hours. In return, shopkeepers pooled Rs 2,500 every month for the services of the rogues-turned-rescuers.
But not all criminals got to play police to their former partners in crime. Only those who had no criminal record for the past five years were eligible. The results were immediate. In the first month, there was no thefts at Jalesar, Etah, and the crime graph dipped.
In return, the erstwhile goons' criminal records were deleted. “I tore apart the history sheets of 14 people at Etah and 30 at Ferozabad,” said Swarup. “They even participated in the Republic Day parade and took an oath never to commit crime.”
Though criminals were converted to Swarup's plan, it was not easy to convince his superiors. The Etah plan was discontinued when Swarup moved out of there. Etah's loss is Bareilly's gain.