ON APRIL 18, Inder Bhan, who works as a personal security officer (PSO) for a leading Delhi businessman’s son, was sitting in the car in Connaught Place. His bag lay in the backseat. It carried his arms licence, 22 live cartridges, a wireless set, and Rs 5,000 cash. There was a knock on the car window, he rolled down the windowpanes, and before he knew it the bag was gone from the backseat. He knew that he had been “fooled by a thak-thak gang”, Bhan said, referring to gangs that operate with a simple modus operandi: knock, distract, and steal.
“Disturbed and humiliated”, Bhan, 38, said he made it his “life’s mission” to catch the bag-lifter. For the next 17 days, he returned to Connaught Place almost every day. He said he looked for the accused in every block, park, and nearly all shops in the area. Bhan claimed he finally caught the suspect when he was “planning to commit another crime” in the area.
While the police registered a case based on his complaint and began investigation, Bhan said he had made up his mind to trace the suspect himself. So every day since April 19, he went to Connaught Place in the evening and walked around. He asked people, shopkeepers and others selling knickknacks in the area about the whereabouts of any such “thak-thak gang”. “I knew I would recognise him if I saw him – his image was fixed in my mind. I used to go to the same area every day waiting for him to appear. But it started getting harder, as my employer began asking where I had gone,” he said.
Thereafter, he began going to Connaught Place in the mornings as well. “I used to sit near paan and cigarette kiosks, near public toilets and local eateries. I thought he might come to one of these places, but he never came. I was disturbed and decided to rejoin work,” Bhan said.
He rejoined work, and began returning to Connaught Place since his employer came to a gym in the area. On May 5, Bhan said he was sitting in his car near A Block when unusual behaviour of a few people made him curious. “They were looking inside other parked cars. I felt something amiss and came out of the car,” Bhan said. “He was the same person, and as I screamed, he started running away…towards Palika Bazar.”
Bhan gave him a chase and finally nabbed him after approximately 400 metres. “Locals also came to my help and they started beating him after they learnt that he is a bag lifter. I informed the police and he was detained.”
After questioning him post-arrest, the police identified the youth as Ashu, alias Aryan, who had apparently been arrested twice in the past and had come out from Tihar Jail on bail around three months ago. An officer said he has disclosed names of his associates, and the police are conducting raids to nab them. The bag and its contents are yet to be recovered.