In the last four years, Pimpri-Chinchwad has seen at least 50 incidents of two-wheelers and four-wheelers being vandalised. Police suspect that those behind such acts are youths in the age group of 15-20, who are trying to create terror and assert their supremacy in the area. Weapons such as sickles and swords are used freely by these youngsters, said police.
Kharalwadi, Mohannagar, Rahatni, Thergaon, Nehrunagar, Vithalnagar and Wakad are among the suburbs that have been most affected by these incidents. The latest incident took place on Tuesday evening, in the Nehrunagar-Vithalnagar area, which has seen several clashes among gangs, which have been involved in a turf war.
Police suspect that these goons either owe allegiance to a local gangster or a politician. The murder of RTI activist Suhas Haldankar last year in Kharalwadi was allegedly committed by youths owing allegiance to a top gangster.
According to local residents, there is hardly any police presence in Nehrunagar-Vithalnagar area, especially in the evening.
“Most of the youngsters can be found loitering or getting involved in arguments or even drinking in public. They not only create a nuisance, but succeed in creating terror in the minds of the people, who are scared of going out in the evening. The police should ensure that these youths are not given the freedom to act as they please,” said local corporator Geeta Mancharkar, who herself was brutally attacked by a gang two years ago.
A senior police official said when the detained youths are produced before the courts, the latter often adopt a lenient approach and release them. A few years ago, the police had set up a chowky to monitor the Nehrunagar-Vithalnagar area. But only a few days after the inauguration, the police chowky was locked up, said Mancharkar, adding that the such a chowky with adequate staff should be immediately set up.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone 3), Ganesh Shinde, said they have arrested the culprits involved in three such incidents this year. “Youths in the age group of 15-20 are indulging in such acts. The Act prevents us from arresting juveniles, but they are taking advantage of the situation…,” he said. Shinde said while the police chowky in Nehrunagar-Vithalnagar has been closed, a new one would be set up in the area.
Some of the youths were found to be brazenly using sickles and swords, he said. Police are now planning to issue a directive to those who own such weapons and ask them to deposit the sickles and swords with the nearest police station. “We want to curb the blatant use of sharp weapons by youngsters,” he said.
Advocate Sachin Godambe said in Bhosari, youths often roamed freely with sickles and swords. “Every week, there are four or five incidents were gangs have attacked each other with sharp weapons. Police should act tough by ensuring that such sharp weapons are not available easily. The vendors of such sharp weapons should be asked to stop their business, which should be declared illegal.”
Godambe said every sickle or sword should be registered with the nearest police station. “The owner should give it in writing that he would not allow its misuse, or specify the purpose for which he needed to keep the sharp weapon,” he said.