In a move aimed at deterring the criminal activities of two small-time gangs in Antop Hill trying to make a name for themselves, the police have slapped the stringent Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) in the recent case filed against them.
On March 14 this year, Durgesh Chaurasiya (18) and Rahul Gawli (19) drowned in a nullah while trying to escape from a fight that broke out between local gangs heads by Pannalal Yadav and Imtiaz Hatela. Yadav and Hatela had an altercation earlier on the same day when they crossed paths at a religious gathering in the Antop Hill area where they both stay, and it was broken up by the people.
However, Hatela returned to the spot with five to six men armed with swords and a clash ensued. Chaurasiya and Gawli, who were part of Yadav’s group, fell into a nullah while trying to escape. The Wadala police had at the time registered Accidental Death Reports in connection with their deaths and a separate case of rioting, and attempt to murder in connection with the clash. The police went on to arrest nine men, including Yadav and Hatela, in connection with the case. “We found out that the arrested accused have a long history of crime with nearly 30 cases registered against them. Some of these crimes were also committed for money. As their records are lengthy and satisfy conditions of both organised crime and monetary gain, we decided to invoke MCOCA against them,” said Additional Commissioner of Police Madhukar Pandey, Central region.
The police said that one of the advantages of the move was that accused charged under the MCOCA do not get bail easily. Further, the punitive sentence for MCOCA cases is also stronger as opposed to cases registered under the Indian Penal Code. The idea, the police said, was to send a strong message to other criminal elements and nip activities of gangs like these in the bud.
The MCOCA, which was enacted in 1999, when the underworld in Mumbai was at its peak, with a view to combat its activities. After the underworld started dying out, the Act was not applied in too many cases. Recently, the police started invoking the act in chain snatching cases.