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The term mafia remains undefined

?Though various departments have from time to time issued instructions to take action against mafia (groups), the term Mafia remains undefined which has resulted in confusion and dilatory action against such person/groups. In various circulars, successive director-generals of police during successive regimes have enumerated such activities (which are) indulged in by mafia groups and instructed stern action against them.

india Updated: May 13, 2006 01:03 IST
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“Though various departments have from time to time issued instructions to take action against mafia (groups), the term Mafia remains undefined which has resulted in confusion and dilatory action against such person/groups. In various circulars, successive director-generals of police during successive regimes have enumerated such activities (which are) indulged in by mafia groups and instructed stern action against them.

Home department in the past also had initiated steps to curb Mafia activities in the state. Principal Secretary Home vide his letter no 3401/Pi/6-pu-3-2004-57pi/2001 dated the 29th Sept. 2004 had directed the Divisional Commissioners, District Magistrate/I.G.s, DIGs and SSPs of the State to start a drive against land mafias and mafias involved in government contracts. The circular, besides drawing attention to specific instances, also dealt with modus operandi of such mafia groups and directed the concerned officers to prepare a list of such groups and initiate appropriate action.

In compliance of Court’s order dated the 17th Feb 2006, IG Crime vide letter No. DG seven, HC-4-(4) 2005 dated the 27th March 2006, furnished crime statistics of last 3 years.

Crime statistics on 11 categories of crime have been provided, such as crime regarding contract murder or getting somebody murdered on payment, cornering government contract by coercion or threat, unauthorized occupation of vacant govt./private land/ building, getting buildings vacated by terrorizing the lawful tenants, getting route permits illegally, getting taxi/ bus stand contract illegally, collecting hafta/ protection money, committing organized crimes such as running gambling dens, brothels, kidnapping for ransom, influencing politicians and getting their support/ protection, abduction/ kidnapping, crimes involving politicians, crimes done to corner tenders, crimes done to obtain mining leases etc.

A cursory examination of the crime statistics submitted by the DG (P), makes it clear that the low incident/ data does not reflect the actual situation prevalent in the State.

As stated by various engineering departments during discussion, and as is borne out in the letter dated the 19th Oct. 2005, of the then Chief Secretary, such mafia groups are operating in the state.

Though, the term mafia find wide berth in common usage, in newspaper reports government circulars etc, it is to be admitted that the word mafia is not a legal term. It owes its origin to Mafioso, which meant bold in Sicily (Italy) in 18th century. Mafia comprised groups of people and families sworn to secrecy, who ran underworld complex societies for revenge and retribution. They believed in vendetta, fierce loyalty to the group and cared little for legal methods. Over a period of time the word mafia came to denote a close group of people in a particular field, having controlling influence (though not necessarily given to use violent methods). With the rise of the New World, some of the emigrants (Italians) brought organized crime into the United States of America, notably in the States of New York, California, Illinois, Nevada and Florida. In USA mafia flourished during the prohibition days. Besides Italian mafia, other ethnic groups such as the Chinese and Black Americans threw up their own gangs who indulged in illicit liquor, gun running, gambling, trafficking in drugs, emigrant labour, prostitution, money laundering and protection racket (i.e. taking money for offering protection against the labour union activities and/ or for sparing life.). During the “ Great Depression” in nineteen thirties such gangs (also known as the mob, underworlds, racketeers) wielded considerable financial and political influence. Gradually they infiltrated into politics. Over the following decades organized criminal network started fanning out their activities into wider areas, transforming themselves to firms or private corporate bodies. The only difference was that real power was wielded by families headed by a patriarch unknown to the street operator.

Thus simply put, mafia came to mean an organized body of criminals who demanded feudal loyalties from their associates and members and ran their organizations or underworld crime, networking in certain areas and certain lucrative fields.”

First Published: May 13, 2006 01:03 IST