Snatching cases have increased by 2.5% this year as compared to last year, according to statistics provided by Delhi Police. To tackle this, Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik has tasked the Special Cell, the anti-terror wing, with tracking down snatchers and gangs.
The direction comes in the wake of several snatching incidents being reported from different areas, where armed assailants targeted women in broad daylight.
The Special Cell is an elite wing of the Delhi Police, assigned to tackle terror-related activities. This is the first time that the police chief has asked the cell to probe incidents of snatching.
When contacted, DCP (Special Cell) Pramod Kushwah said, “All incidents come under the charter of the Delhi Police. We have deployed some of our teams to work on snatchers.”
As per police data, 2,165 snatching cases were reported till April 30 this year, while 2,109 cases were reported in the corresponding period last year. While 6,527 cases were reported in 2017, 8,238 were reported in 2016 and 11,187 in 2015.
Recently, Patnaik called a meeting with the special CP and two DCPs of the Special Cell to come up with a new strategy to prevent snatching incidents. “The DCPs then met their team members — who were earlier working on tracking dreaded criminals — and directed them to prepare a list of snatchers… The teams are working round the clock and meeting local informers for information,” said a senior police officer.
Despite conducting multiple raids over the last 20 days, the cell is yet to make any breakthrough. “Mostly, juvenile or first-time criminals are committing snatching incidents; police teams do not have any data on them,” said the officer.
A few years ago, former police chief B S Bassi had directed personnel not to ignore snatching cases and to register them under sections of robbery. He also directed all police stations to register FIRs in all cases, including petty theft cases.
“The motive behind registering a robbery case was to book snatchers under harsher sections, so they don’t get bail easily. We observed that snatchers were misusing the law and getting bail easily if we failed to make any recovery from their possession. After consulting our legal counsel, we started booking them under robbery charges, and the MCOCA for running organised crime syndicates,” a retired senior special CP-rank officer told The Indian Express.
According to police, at least 18 snatching cases are reported every day, with several others going unreported. Last week, two bike-borne men allegedly snatched a gold chain from a woman in West Delhi’s Inderpuri.
The incident was captured on a CCTV camera installed in the area, which shows one of the accused getting down from his bike and trying to snatch her chain. When she tried to resist, he pushed her down and dragged her. She screamed for help, but by the time a passerby came to her rescue, the robbers managed to escape with her chain, police said. No arrest has been made so far.