FIVE MONTHS after a team from Delhi Police’s south district arrested five persons and detained a minor in connection with several cases of theft at marriage functions, the southwest district police has nabbed the alleged kingpin of the gang. Police sources said the arrested accused — identified as 32-year-old Raka, who hails from Madhya Pradesh’s Rajgarh district — used to employ minors from his hometown and prepare them to steal valuables from the marriage functions.
Surender Kumar, DCP (southwest), said the accused was arrested from a rented accommodation in Pochanpur area in southwest Delhi on Saturday. He was staying there with two more persons, besides two children. Cash worth Rs 4 lakh, gold and silver jewellery and other gifts given to the bride by guests, worth around Rs 8 lakh, were also recovered from his possession.
“The gang comprises adult men and women as well. They usually stay at rented premises and drop the children off at the targeted functions. Sometimes, they even wait outside the venues to pick up the children on three-wheelers and motorbikes,” said Kumar.
Sources told The Indian Express after committing the crime, the gang — infamous as the ‘Band Baaja Baraat gang’ — would either sell off the valuables or send all of it to Rajgarh. The last such theft was from a function held at Kamya Farm House in southwest Delhi on June 19. During interrogation, Raka told police that children between the age of 9 and 15 in Rajgarh are auctioned off for the purpose on the basis of their potential and intelligence. Sometimes, the bid amount for a child even crosses Rs 10 lakh. Once a child is auctioned off, the bid money is handed over to his parents in installments. The child is hired for a period of one year.
After being hired, the child undergoes a training session for a month on how to steal without looking suspicious. The child is also made mentally and physically strong so that he does not reveal his identity and that of his gang members in case he is caught. At the training camp, the child is also instructed to wear good clothes, and eat as well, in a bid to dispel suspicion. Police said the gang members used to take up houses on rent for one or two months.
“During the day time, they would stay back at their houses and take rest. In the evenings, they would hire a TSR till late night. They would look for a good marriage function, two or three of the gang members, including the minors, would then enter the party. After careful observation of the pageantry, they would fix their focus on the bag containing the cash, valuables etc being received by the newlyweds. As soon as they would find an opportune moment, they would steal the bag and hand it over to the members of the gang waiting outside,” a police officer privy to the details of the case said.