Monday, November 28th, 2022 09:30:03

Ganda Hai Par Dhanda Hai Light-Fingered Community Flourishes In Delhi

Updated: August 25, 2012 10:30 am

Belly teaches all art and bizarre is an art of pocketmaari! Watch out, someone is stalking you, if you are at a wedding party, an eye is chasing you right from the parking lot and keeping tabs on every move you make and in a split second you are gone with the wind. Your bag, wallet, cell phones, tabs or any of your valuables may be snitched and by the time you realise, it’s too late.

They operate in a group of 4 to 6, commute within a specific radius, recce the target and then they breeze through the whole hog at full throttle. After executing the ‘assignment’ they flee surreptitiously one by one and congregate at a place decided pre-operation. In Delhi, there are more than 50 gangs of pickpockets operating smoothly under the nose of the police and more interestingly some are doing brisk business with the connivance of the local police.

Places such as Paharganj, Mangolpuri, Sultanpuri, Seelampur, Seemapuri, Nandnagri Nangloi, Trilokpuri, Govindpuri and Uttamnagar are believed to be a hotbed of this trade and the buses plying on these routes bear a nexus with those on the beat and local toughies, even bus drivers and conductors more often than not collude with the gangs on the prowl.

As per the police source, all these gangs under names such as Tiger, Badshah, Deva, Bhai, Gidpitia, King, Robert, Raju, Radhe, Rehman Bittoo, and Guddu operate within an area specified among themselves. If a gang intrudes into the other’s territory it may result in spilling blood.

Pickpockets are hardcore and adamantly incorrigible. Talks cannot convert them. The MO (modus operandi) employed by this light-fingered community is quite peculiar in a way. They remain more active between 1st and 10th of the month as many get their salaries. Well defined is the job of each member of the gang and they religiously follow the to-do-list of the day. When out on a ‘batting-on spree’ they prefer to go under the influence of some quota of drugs. They are perfect at the art and perform with dexterity and adroitness. For, they board the bus in ones and twos more likely from the rear gate, taking stock of the whole environment they go about hunting for the fat pocket on board, preferably the one standing, aged or a lady passenger. On spotting the prey (mudda), they start hovering around the target. One who is in their lingo called thekbaaz distracts the attention by shoving him and the other jebtarash (machine) does the job either by using his trained fingers or a surgical blade.

At a time and in one single swipe they strike two to three hits. The worst comes when the victim raises the alarm. Sensing danger of being caught they, equipped with surgical blades concealed in the mouth and knives they whip out, and brandish them to scare him away, slash and even stab on resistance. They stab rather cautiously in the lower part of the body to avoid being booked under a serious section of IPC. On being caught, the other members charge in no time and jump off in one body to his rescue; they also join the crowd and bash him off and on and help him scamper off the spot.

The gang moves about in crowded places—ISBT Kashmere Gate, Anand Vihar, Metros, fairs, exhibitions, marriage parties, shrines, religious places and weekly bazaars are their favourite hang-outs. There is a slight dip in pick-pocketing in buses since the fleet of blue line buses has been taken off the road, and low-floor DTC buses in place run by the state government do not connive.

At the crack of dawn, the members are briefed well about their routes, plans, targets and escape routes. The gangs appear on the surface of the crowded desi liquor joints yet another easy-to-hit venue. Particularly in the evening, these liquor vends remain buzzed with men smelling of stale sweat and grime holler at the counter, the gang springs into action. The thekbaaz, or assistant who creates distraction, shoves a potential customer from the back. In a fraction of second he is stripped, his wallet or mobile phone is gone. The phone is sold within an hour or two to a shopkeeper for as much as the sale buys them their daily fix and a bit of chicken.

As hunger moves many hearts, money corrupts even the best heads. Riyaz (name changed) took to this side of crime when he went hungry and grinding poverty loomed large in the face. He had a good time with his friends as the gang would gather at a phool (pick-pocket slang for a meeting at a pre-decided venue) and then leave for north campus, South Extension or any other business-friendly area. They would always stash a blade in their mouth. If caught, one of them would create a scene, even slashing himself to scare the crowd, and escape in the consequent melee. “Many a time, beat constables are hand in glove with pickpockets for a cut. They know who is operating in the area. They are honest and have ethics and do not harass you as long as you pay them. But then there are a handful of such people, who even take the bribe and do not work for that”, Riyaz disclosed.

Jeans and T-shirt-clad pickpockets, in all sizes and shapes, are quite unassuming but they never fail to recognise one from the staff (police). They call the police beela or cheebad. Even the policeman can smell the rat on a nibble. A thekbaaz to begin with, Riyaz had graduated to a machine, the master pickpocket of a gang. But, as he himself admits, he is far from what is almost reverentially called an ustaad, an artful dodger—an artist of crime with fingers so nimble you would gasp in awe of his art. Riyaz once ran from one mess to another giving a harrowing time to the police has finally come out of this once-left-hand-game for him.

“I quit the game after having been into it for fifteen years and lodged in jail for long. I have a family to support. My daughters are studying. I have to take care of everything pertaining to social bonds,” said Riyaz, who played a hide and seek and eluded the police dragnet for years despite the fact that he remained active during these years. Riyaz informed that Rajiv Chowk, metro feeder buses and RTVs are vulnerable spots. ‘The gang reads everyone in the bus, scans and chooses the victim at will. If the operation fails to work out they either loot or commit a robbery but they do not let their prey escape ‘unscathed’.

These gangs are basically run by local goons and POs, (Public Offenders) and even BCs (Bad Characters) of an area establish a strong nexus with them. They extort in the name of protection and operation. As per sources, Dharmi from Shahadra used to be one who controlled the business for some time.

Good wallet-lifters are egotists; they take innate pride in doing their trade. The best have self-inflicted blade marks on their forearms: a sort of status symbol, says a cop. Some years ago Dhanni who was killed in a police encounter lorded it over the world of pickpockets in the Capital. An amazing finger artist with élan and éclat is said to have run schools where he trained buddings in this bizarre art. He would whip a wallet, empty it and put it back in the victim’s pocket. His gang operated mainly in buses around the city of Delhi. Fellow gangs respected this veteran and even new crops of this trade revered him no less.

Sonu (name changed) has been making fast bucks by these sweeps. He revealed some startling facts when prodded. “Some do for certain reasons, they get sodomized, filmed and blackmailed into doing this business. Small children disappear, nobody knows where they go. Big time gangs dealing in picking wallets business lift them and train them accordingly. They even shelter them in a place rather obscured. These kids perform well in exhibitions and wedding parties. When they are caught their mentors—akaas—perform all the proceedings from the police stations to courts to prison.”

Little Golu, a well-polished snitcher, is too small for a big game like this. He worked for a gang and struck many a swipe with finesse. Now he quit the game after a story carried out by Kumar Gajendra, Nai Dunia and a follow-up ran for days. Now, Golu is in Bal Sudhar Grah.

This business has over these years grown more competitive. Newcomers are first taken on observations they watch the play and also assist the machines at work. A machine is the leader of the gang and protected by the rest. When a machine is in danger of getting nabbed, he must be rescued by the thekbaaz. A machine generally filches the snitched stuff and passes it on to the nearest thekbaaz. He performs the task while the thekbaaz whisks the booty away.

Pick-pocketing is essentially a teamwork; though, solo artists too exist. Pickpockets, both males and females, operate in crowded metros, city buses, railway stations, bus terminals and daily markets.

Summers get them a lucrative business; winter is said to be bad for business because people often walk with hands in trousers. Pickpockets filch wallets, ATM cards, credit cards—everything a pocket holds. A senior cop says they have the predatory instincts of a tiger. Their work schedule depends on the area. For instance, every morning pickpockets eagerly wait for the daily small traders in Old Delhi, Hazrat Nizamuddin and Paharganj railway stations. They also operate in the narrow by-lanes of Chandni Chowk, Sadar Bazaar and Karol Bagh.


Abhishek plz make this article in BOX



Some pickpockets have shifted their focus onto chain and mobile phone snatching. Some believe that this business has gone into a decline. Snatching like pickpocketing has no art involved in executing the mode of crime. It needs only two people one who can drive well a bike with its registration number plate either twisted upward so that the number cannot be read or a tampered one. Most prefer the stolen ones. The pillion driver pounces and lays a hand on the target and vrooms in another second leaving the shocked victim gasping for a move. Their MO is to go about carrying out the reccee of the area, its geography, lanes and by-lanes, check points etc. They target isolated places and deserted stretch unlike pick pockets do. The chain snatching gang even carries fire arms and its soft targets are women and senior citizens. In the morning while they are going to temple or for a stroll or fetching milk from a nearby mother dairy they are mugged in broad daylight. Even the hour at twilight is not too inauspicious for them as it helps them melt in the shadow of darkness. Delhi Police has launched a number of drives pertaining to street crimes but then it has failed to cut much ice on the ground. A constable on the beat concentrates more on the peddlers, juice wallahs selling juice mixed with hooch, eating stalls, new construction in the area than tracking down bad characters (BCs) silent or active in the area.


Abhishek plz make this article in BOX


Females are running a neck and neck race. They on a par with their gender counterparts try an outlandish idea of snitching wallets. They in a group board a bus and hang around with one drunk. One of the lot gets closer to preying upon him. Positioning well with the cleavage in view attracts him, he leaves all his world behind only to concentrate on his pretty looking and chic chick (co-passenger). The booby trap traps him, he even skips his destined stop where he should get off. Once the attention diverts, the other keeping a close eye on the target swipes the wallet. By the time he walks out of the high of the chasm engaged him all through he is undone. Some gangs even go about with kids between the age groups 10 and 15 so as to keep the suspicious elements at bay, these children also assist the show. Such gangs prefer metro, exhibitions, hotels and railway stations.

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