Narrow roads, congested traffic and surrounded on all sides by open areas, Bhajanpura seems to be the ideal hunting ground for chain-snatchers. All a miscreant needs is a fast motorcycle and a helmet to conceal his identity.
In 2014, Bhajanpura police station recorded the ninth most snatching cases in the city. A year on, it recorded the most. From the figures available with the Delhi Police, northeast Delhi — spread over 4.5 sqkm — records the most snatching cases, but has few officers and staff to probe and prevent such offences.
“An analysis of snatching cases revealed that 60 per cent of the criminals arrested for such crimes were first-time offenders and 40 per cent of them were either illiterate or school dropouts. Most of them are juveniles,” a senior police officer said, adding that involvement of juveniles and students aged between 20 and 30 in these crimes has increased in recent years.
The Delhi Police’s Crime Branch recently mapped the most affected areas in Delhi for four offences — molestation, rape, chain-snatching and murder. Snatching cases rose from 38 in 2014 to 64 in 2015 between January 1 and April 15.
Like other police stations in this list, Bhajanpura suffers from similar symptoms — a severe staff shortage, little infrastructure in terms of vehicles and equipment and vast tracts of empty land. Despite recording the most chain-snatching cases, Bhajanpura police personnel have only two SUVs and seven motorcycles for round-the-clock patrolling of the area.
Residents said they had to live with “total lawlessness” and police had miserably failed when it comes to nabbing the snatchers. Neelam Bhatia, a victim of chain-snatching, told The Indian Express, “It was my mangalsutra, and apart from financial loss, emotionally it was very tough to recover from such incidents. Nowadays, it has become a regular occurrence with rampant chain-snatching incidents being reported from different areas of Bhajanpura.”
Police sources said Bhajanpura police station could not possibly deploy more personnel to prevent such incidents considering the staff crunch. “Offenders usually target women walking alone. They arrive in their speeding bikes, snatch gold chains and escape,” police sources said.
Investigation has revealed that middle and low income groups from Mustafabad, Chand Bagh, Noor Elahi and Loni are involved in these crimes.