Gangs shun torture, murder to escape harsh sentence
The abduction of a woman in a car by unidentified men, who robbed her of her belongings before letting her go, may be a work of the notorious lift-and-loot gang, police officials investigating the matter said Monday, adding that this was the 16th such case in this year, but the first in which a woman was targeted. Despite the Gurugram police busting such gangs almost every few weeks, there is no let-up in their operation.
“A large number of these gang members meet in jail and form groups. Once they’re out of jail, they steal cars, buy second-hand cars and get themselves registered with car aggregators to ensure that they are part of the milieu,” said a police official who did not wish to be named.
Investigators said the lure of easy money and diminishing fear of law is what gets these gangs to form and flourish.
Police said criminals have become more “law-savvy and tech-savvy”, and they ensure their victims do not suffer any serious injury, which could invite the police to invoke more serious sections of the Indian Penal Code. In majority incidents reported in recent past, there is minimum use of firearms and gangs threaten physical violence or beat the victim a little to scare them into compliance.
In the past decade, the police have busted at least 60 such gangs, but this has not helped the law-enforcers in checking such crimes. In fact, the hallmark of these gangs has been that when the police heat is on, they move to quieter areas and return to the city once the vigil has reduced.
In November 2006, the Gururgam police had busted the first such gang. A total of nine men—aged 18-32 years and hailing from Bhora Kalan village on NH-8—part of two gangs, were arrested for killing almost 40 people in lift-and-loot incidents on the Delhi Gurgaon Expressway. In November 2009, a fast track court announced life term for five of the nine accused.
The police said that after this, no such incident was reported for a year. In 2011, five members of a dreaded highway-cabbies’ gang, that had robbed and tortured over 40 executives of various companies were arrested. Hailing from Mewat, the gang would mercilessly thrash their victims and force them withdraw money from ATMs. After having “extorted” Rs 5 lakh over a few months, they were arrested in January 2012.
Police said since then, numerous new gangs have emerged and been busted, but there’s been no end to such incidents.
“The modus operandi has changed; they avoid violence and focus on getting money and valuables to escape major punishment. Some of them have been operating as cab drivers and commit a crime once or twice in a week, and operate normally for the rest of the week. This helps them evade detection,” ACP (crime) Shamsher Singh said.
Police officials, who have been posted in the city over the last few years, said these gangs mainly target working professionals, and lack of public transport system only helps them.
“These gangs mainly targeting executives of multinational companies. They know the executives will easily fall prey due to poor local transport services,” ACP (retd) Ramesh Pal said.
Inspector (retd) Ram Chander said, “The migrant population has expanded, while the number of police staff has not increased proportionately.”