While it’s perfectly fine to lose yourself in the mirth and merry of Navratri, do cast an occasional glance over your shoulder. Chain-snatchers have been busy robbing people, mainly women, across the city since the festival began on Tuesday. At least 11 cases of chain-snatching were reported across the city over the first three days of Navratri.
The most recent incident took place on Thursday. Fifty-five-year-old Usha Darade, a homemaker from Vikhroli, was taking a morning walk near her Tagore Nagar residence, when two bike-borne men rode up beside her, snatched her gold chain and sped away. The chain was
estimated to be worth Rs1.2 lakh.
A day earlier, 19-year-old Monica Patel was walking on the Chincholi Bunder Road in Malad (West). An autorickshaw slowed down near her, and before Monica could react, the man seated on at the rear, grabbed her gold chain. The autorickshaw sped away even as she shouted for help.
“Patel raised an alarm and began running behind the auto. The accused tried to flee but there was a traffic jam at the signal ahead,” said Mahesh Kulkarni, sub-inspector with the Malad police station. “Noticing the traffic jam, the man who grabbed Patel’s chain jumped off and tried to escape. But the locals caught him before he could flee.”
The man was identified as Sikandar Khan, 20. The rickshaw driver managed to escape.
Police say they are taking all efforts to curb the menace, but people need to remain alert. “We have been taking extra efforts like requesting people to be on their guard, making announcements at garba mandals, asking people to cover their gold jewellery while walking on lonely stretches,” said Mahipak Indalkar, senior inspector with Vikhroli police. “However, despite our best efforts, people do not take these warnings seriously till they are targeted.”
Police chief’s strong words yet to translate into action on ground
mumbai: It’s been a month since police commissioner Satyapal Singh instructed police stations to crack down on chain-snatchers. Yet, there’s no relief in sight from the menace. On Tuesday, when the festive season kicked off with Navratri, four cases of chain-snatching were reported. All four victims were senior citizens, who were relieved of their valuables in brazen, daylight robberies.
Singh had also ordered that chain-snatchers be booked for “robbery” instead of “theft”, as was the practice earlier. The punishment for robbery is harsher than that for theft, and the commissioner hoped the move would be a deterrent. He announced that repeat offenders may be booked under stringent acts such as the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA). However, not a single chain-snatcher has yet been booked under the MCOCA. Legal experts have said that the Act, which was essentially meant to check the underworld, may not stick against street thugs like chain-snatchers, unless police bust the entire syndicate of chain snatchers, if any.
It was also decided to form dedicated teams in every police station to go after chain-snatchers. But there’s yet to be any action towards that. Joint commissioner of police, law and order, Sadanand Date claimed that police were doing “whatever they could do” to curb the menace. “I share everyone’s concern about these crimes. We are taking this with all seriousness,” Date said. He said the police have stepped up patrolling, and nakabandis. Policemen are also being deployed in plain clothes to apprehend the crooks. “We have had fair amount of success. Detection (of cases) is taking place in west and central regions,” Date said. This is significant as the two police regions, comprising most of the western suburbs and central Mumbai, are worst affected by chain-snatching. Asked if his claims mean that crime reduced, Date said, “I cannot say anything off hand. I have to check the records”.