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Tuesday, Oct 22, 2019

Meet Capital’s criminals who are too old to change their unscrupulous ways

Defying age and criminal psychology, several elderly men and women refuse to mend their ways and continue to be involved in crimes in Delhi, according to police officers who have dealt with such cases.

delhi Updated: Sep 19, 2019 19:05 IST
Prawesh Lama
Prawesh Lama
New Delhi
From selling drugs to posing as police officers, robbing passersby, to stealing and even murders, there is no dearth of the elderly involved in crimes.
From selling drugs to posing as police officers, robbing passersby, to stealing and even murders, there is no dearth of the elderly involved in crimes.(HT FILE)
         

Dhani Ram Mittal, 80, wants movie scriptwriters to approach him to tell them the story of his eventful life and a criminal record spanning six decades. An unidentified filmmaker approached him earlier this year, took details of his crimes and offered to pay him. He never received any money and, for the first time in his life, he felt like a victim.

In 1968, Mittal committed his first crime by forging a degree to get a station master’s job. He worked there for six years before leaving to pose as a judge in a court in Haryana’s Jhajjar in the 1970s. He even issued bail orders for almost two months until he was caught. Mittal was last arrested in 2016 for a car theft and is currently out on bail. According to police records, this was his 126th car theft across at least five states.

Mittal is not alone. Defying age and criminal psychology, several elderly men and women refuse to mend their ways and continue to be involved in crimes in Delhi, according to police officers who have dealt with such cases. The age factor helps them stay off the police radar. From selling drugs to posing as police officers, robbing passersby, to stealing and even murders, there is no dearth of the elderly involved in crimes.

The Delhi Police last month arrested Rajrani Topli, 88, an alleged drug dealer, with 16gm of heroin. It was the 10th time she was arrested over 63 years. Topli is the mother of seven and was granted bail in another drug case because of her age.

On Tuesday, a 60-year-old mother of five was held for smuggling heroin for the fifth time.

At a west Delhi police station, inspector Rajpal Dabas has a record of elderly criminals in Delhi. Dabas arrested Mittal in 2016 for stealing a car. Mittal’s name features on number 43 on Dabas’s list of elderly criminals. Dabas said there are over 100 such criminals.

LN Rao, a former deputy commissioner of Delhi Police, said elderly men and women do not quit crime because it is lucrative. “Do you know that these habitual elderly criminals also have fixed lawyers? I have seen cases in which elderly criminals pay their advocates in advance so that they do not have to hire them after their arrest. Another reason is loss of reputation. For such prisoners, there is no difference between time spent in jail or outside. They are habitual and know everyone in prisons. So, they do not mind going there.”

Their arrests and regular dealings with police officers even help some of the elderly criminals in their crimes. A majority of such elderly prisoners pose as police officers or those from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to con or rob unsuspecting people.

Men like Kishen Lal, 65, who has a 48-year criminal record, have told police they know the law well and can also talks like a policeman to make it difficult for their victims to suspect them.

Since 1976, Lal, a resident of Ghaziabad, has been arrested in 38 cases in Delhi alone. The number of cases against Lal across north India could be in hundreds.

“When he was young, he kidnapped people by posing as a police officer and took them to isolated places to rob them… In recent years, we have seen that he poses as a policeman but does not kidnap people. He steals bags in the name of frisking. It is age catching up with such prisoners, but mentally, people like Lal are still young and active,” a police officer, who has questioned Lal, said on condition of anonymity.

Shyam Sunder, an Uttar Pradesh resident whom Lal conned in 2014, said there is no way anyone could have figured out that he was not a police officer. “He stopped me by saying it was a routine check. Also, he looked very elderly and I assumed that he is a genuine police officer.”

There are 10 such elderly men above 60, who have been caught posing as police officers recently. Police say that the main places where these imposters strike are near railway stations since they are always full of people from small towns and villages.

Like Lal, Bhushan Prasad, 69, a Madhya Pradesh resident, has been arrested in Delhi at least four times for posing as a policeman. Prasad was last arrested in 2014 for duping a man outside the Old Delhi railway station. Police records show that Prasad is fluent in at least five languages and uses that to his advantage.

Narain Dass, 64, an alleged drug smuggler in police records, is currently in prison for allegedly smuggling 3kg heroin in 2012. He faces at least eight cases in Delhi alone. Records show that Dass lost his two brothers because of drug addiction. But he continued to smuggle drugs. Like Dass, even Rajrani, 88, arrested for drug smuggling last month, lost her children to addiction, but that didn’t stop her.

Dr Nimesh Desai, director of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences, said it is startling to know that the city has elderly criminals, who are habitual offenders. “It defies the commonly believed logic. I am surprised to know that there are such elderly criminals. Each case must be different. There cannot be a similar thread in all cases. There cannot be a trend,” Desai. He added that often repeat offenders have a criminal tendencies or personality disorders but that, too, diminish after crossing 50. Shedding light on what prompted an 88-year-old to sell drugs, Rajrani told a cop on the evening of her arrest last month: “This is all that I know. This is my life.”

First Published: Sep 19, 2019 02:10 IST

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