The rise in incidents of extortion in the western suburbs has lead to decline in the detection of motor vehicle theft cases in the area.
This is because some of the police officers, who were part of the special squad formed to detect vehicle thefts, were diverted to the recently formed anti-extortion squad, also known as the anti-Ravi Pujari squad.
The anti-extortion squad was formed after three incidents of firing in Khar, Oshiwara and DN Nagar, allegedly by members of the Pujari gang. Several police officers specialising in tracking down gangs involved in motor vehicle thefts were temporarily shifted to the anti-extortion squad to crack down the rising incidents of extortion.
A senior police officer said the squad was a success when it was started but had to be dissolved to form another team. Following this, incidents of motor vehicle theft increased in the area rapidly.
An officer, who was part of the 12-member anti-vehicle theft squad and has now been moved to the 10-member anti extortion squad, said: “Curbing and detecting extortion cases have been given precedence compared to cases of motor vehicle theft. This has, however, increased the theft of vehicles from an average two to three thefts a day to four to five.” The police have decided to tackle extortion cases first.
The anti-extortion squad reports to Addl CP (West region) Amitabh Gupta and DCP (Zone IX) K.M.M. Prasanna. “The incidents of motor vehicle theft had declined for three weeks after the special squad was formed,” Prasanna said. “When some of the officers moved to the anti-extortion squad it resulted in an increase in vehicle theft again.”
The special squad was formed by Prasanna’s predecessor, Niket Kaushik, in August 2008 but was disbanded in June 2009 after Kaushik was transferred to the anti-corruption bureau.
The squad was re-assembled in June.