Police say will probe any ‘lapse’
Delhi Police on Sunday said they would look into the “stray cases” where police officers may have invoked incorrect sections in cases of snatching.
An HT analysis of at least 100 such FIRs showed that despite complainants informing police about their phones, money or gold chains being “snatched”, police registered the case under theft, which is not a “street crime”. Hindustan Times found such FIRs at almost all police stations across the city .
Deputy Commissioner of Police, MS Randhawa, who is the police spokesperson said, “You cannot call this a trend across the city. If there are such cases where incorrect sections have been used, we will examine those and take appropriate action.”
Randhawa also said that in cases of robbery, police file an FIR at the police station, after medical examination of the victim in each case. “Robbery is the main ‘street crime’. If anyone is hurt, the police have instructions to immediately register an FIR and nab the accused persons. This is also why robbery cases have decreased. No one can say that police do not register robbery cases,” the officer said.
HT accessed such FIRs in the backdrop of a number of snatching cases across the city that have made headlines. Over the last two weeks, a man was murdered during a snatching attempt; a woman was violently assaulted and a couple was chased in the New Delhi area by bike-borne chain snatchers. On Friday, a 59-year-old woman suffered injuries on her hands and shoulders while fending a resisting attempt by motorcycle-borne snatchers in south Delhi’s Jangpura.
Ajai Raj Sharma, who served as the Delhi police chief between 1999 and 2002, said that police must gain the upper hand and dominate criminals. “If police are registering cases of snatching as theft, then it is wrong. Police must deal with the snatchers head on. It requires hard work. They can do it if they want. They must prepare a list of all snatchers who are out on bail and monitor their activities. They must identify the buyers of these stolen cellphones or jewellery and identify the people who sell such items. They have to break the chain,” said Sharma.
But many Delhi police officers who spoke on condition of anonymity said that cases of snatching on Delhi’s streets were declining. A senior officer said cases are now grabbing headline because of CCTV cameras that record the act. “A few years ago, there were over 9,000 cases but not many were caught on CCTV. These days almost every crime is caught on camera and is shown on television so it naturally becomes big (news). There could be cases of a few police officers not registering FIRs truthfully but it must be very few. This is Delhi. People will not allow police to do such a thing. Infact they exaggerate their statement and sometimes register missing items as theft.”
Former Uttar Pradesh DG Vikram Singh said, “I am aware of the Delhi Police claim that there is a decline of 25% in street crime. The statistics do not reveal, but conceal the vitals. People are educated, and know that filing a false case can land him/her into trouble under section 182 of Indian Penal Code. Not many, actually nobody, will take that risk. If a large number of complaints are not registered truthfully, then street crimes will come down. Also, the focus must be on preventive action in nailing such criminals. IPS does not only stand for Indian Police Service but also the ‘index of people satisfaction’. The day people say they are secure, that is the real test of policing.”