An MBA degree holder who was employed as assistant manager in a bank surrendered before a Madurai court on Tuesday. He was wanted in connection with a case of kidnapping a DMK councillor in Dindigul. The city police are also seeking his custody in connection with the murder of businessman Imtiaz Khan, who was found dead in his car in December last year. The case of Ajith, also known as ‘Patti’ Ajith after his passion for high-breed dogs, is only one of the many recent instances of youngsters taking to criminal activities.

Senior police officials admit that the average age of criminals has come down and a majority of those booked for various offences are well educated. “It is noted that a majority of these crimes were committed to maintain fancy lifestyles and extravagant spending,” says K. Padmakumar, Inspector General of Police, Kochi Range.

In another instance, Thrikkakara police recently arrested a couple of youth in their 20s, on charges of robbery and assault. The gang who moved along on high-end motorbikes belonged to affluent families, with parents working abroad. None of these were crimes for survival.

“General prevalence of crime in our society is high and this is not directly linked to educational profiles. There are enough micro-mini instances of violence within families – uncontrolled show of anger, destructing property and shouting – which gets manifested on a larger scale among peer groups,” says psychiatrist C.J. John.

It is believed that the issue has roots in changing campus cultures. “Unless the campuses are meaningfully politicised, the psyche of youth is routed to wrong directions. With political discussions banned, campuses are discussing issues like narcotics and pornographic films. A recent study pointed out that a major segment of religious fundamentalists are well-educated youth, who are surprisingly not that religious, but joined the movement to engage their energy,” says K.S. David, criminologist and director of the Central Institute of Behavioural Sciences.

Parenting also emerges a key factor in such cases. “Children are not taught at home to grow up to be good individuals, but to be persons with lots of money. The general outlook of our society is materialistic and pleasure-driven and this is reflected in the rise in general criminality,” says Dr. John.

The police are now at a loss on how to counter the issue. “There should be a paradigm shift in the concept of policing. The concept of having more boots on the ground should go and we need to embrace latest technology to fight the new age crime,” says Mr. Padmakumar.

The breakthrough in the Imtiaz murder came through the employment of high-end technology, he adds. Even as teams of City Police were scouring for suspects and interrogating goondas, a team was focussed on scanning thousands of frames captured in CCTV cameras between Cherthala and Kochi.

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