People from the Mewat region, which borders Delhi, take to crime for sustenance. Devesh K. Pandey finds out more...

Criminals from outside the Capital are often a major contributor to the crime graph of the city. The Mewat region comprising parts of Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh has over the years become a breeding ground for such gangs that indulge in a wide range of crimes in Delhi and the satellite townships of Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida.

Right from cheating, robbery and burglary to motor vehicle thefts, these gangs have proved to be a tough nut to crack for the police. According to senior police officers, a large number of people from this region take to crime for sustenance.

They employ various modus operandi to evade detection and fool their victims. For instance, gangs indulging in theft of two-wheelers and commercial vehicles like tempos, trucks and buses sneak into the Capital, stay here for a couple of days, lift vehicles, and vanish from the scene.

On several occasions, the police have found that these gangs steal commercial vehicles and then sell them back to their owners. "As most commercial vehicles bear the contact numbers of their owners, these gangs call them up and ask them to pay up to get their vehicles back. The calls are made through public telephone booths to evade detection," said a police officer.

There have been instances where the auto-lifters have called up the owners and offered to return their vehicles at half the price.

A study of the manner in which criminals of this region graduate into the world of crime reveals that they first begin with burglaries in showrooms, move to auto-theft, and then start committing robberies. The police recently arrested Zakir who purportedly disclosed that his gang had over 40 members and had stolen more than 200 trucks so far. The stolen vehicles were disposed of in West Bengal, Assam and Jharkhand.

Interestingly, some gangs from the Mewat region are engaged in stealing stray cattle. They sneak into Delhi in tempos late at night, pick up stray cattle, and dispose them of in their villages. The miscreants keep huge boulders in their tempos, using them as missiles in case the police try to chase them. In one case reported at Nangloi a couple of years ago, the cattle thieves even threw a cow at a Police Control Room van.

There are certain gangs operating from Rajasthan that cheat people on the pretext of selling them "gold". In local parlance, the modus operandi is known as "Tatloo Katnaa". The police suspect that over 40 such gangs are operating from the region and they go as far as Ahmedabad and Mumbai to commit crime. Some even cheat people on the pretext of selling antiques.

As these gangs are always on the move, it becomes difficult for the police to keep a constant surveillance on them.

When attempts were made to nab the criminals from their villages, the police met with stiff resistance from the locals.

In such circumstances, many police officers feel that there is a need to carry out a thorough study to identify the factors that force the residents of the Mewat region to indulge in crime. Apart from the police action, various other measures like poverty alleviation through employment opportunities need to be taken to wean away these people from the world of crime.