New Delhi, Oct 5 (IANS) In the 1980s, even if one or two incidents of snatching took place in Delhi, it would be taken very seriously by the police and the government.
In fact, when such incidents rose to the number of four to five a month, the then Delhi Police Commissioner Ved Marwah had immediately ordered increase in Police Control Room (PCR) vans from about 35 to 100.
Those were the days when snatchers did not have vehicles, unlike nowadays, to commit crimes but would target people in desolate and dark roads and then vanish on foot in nearby by-lanes or forested areas.
In some rare cases, the snatchers would use stolen scooters.
However, with stringent policing, the snatching gangs were eliminated and the menace was curbed.
The laws to deal with these crimes were the same then and now. But the difference is that such crimes have witnessed a sharp increase in the recent times.
The snatchers in current times don’t hesitate even in killing people during their snatching bid.
According to the first Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police’s Special Cell Sukhdev Singh, who headed the unit from 1989 to 1992, the force has been performing its duty under “extreme pressure nowadays and doesn’t have time to differentiate between right and wrong.The snatchers are taking advantage of the situation and the public is paying for it”.
Sukhdev Singh, who served Delhi Police for 35 years between 1957 and 1992, faced three murder cases, including killing of Sundar Singh dacoit and two custodial deaths.
In Sundar Singh’s case, Sukhdev Singh was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and had been in Tihar Jail for months before getting out of there after court’s judgment.
Talking to IANS, Sukhdev Singh said when he was Station House Officer (SHO) in Shahdara police station in East Delhi in 1970, he had sent out a message to all hardened criminals that they should surrender or face death.
“My technique worked and all criminals surrendered before me,” he said.
“Later, I did not see even a single incident of snatching or theft in my jurisdiction. Public, police and criminals lived peacefully at that time,” the retired police officer said.
Asked why snatching incidents are assuming a deadly shape now, he said: “One of the reasons is that police somehow could not instill fear among criminals. And secondly, most of the snatchers are unemployed and they want to earn money by any means.”
The former policeman said that the snatchers have now turned cruel. “Most of the snatchers are on drugs when they commit crimes. In that condition, they only want to achieve their target and don’t hesitate in killing people while attempting snatching bid.”