Police have to work out a mechanism with their counterparts from neighbouring States to curb the menace, says Prashant Pandey

It seems criminals coming in from outside the city have a major impact on Delhi's crime scene. And there may not be many solutions in sight to curb the problem.

To begin with, these "outsiders" do not always follow the "come, commit crime, and flee" routine. In fact, quite a number of them come to the Capital, stay here for some time, commit the crime and then escape. Illegal Bangladeshi migrants are an example of this. They have also been able to establish a strong network that helps the illegal migrants in committing crime in the Capital, while the money is delivered to their homes in Bangladesh almost immediately through hawala channels. Illegal migrants have been found involved in some of the most heinous cases of robbery, murder and even burglary, particularly in the Capital's posh areas.

Another method which criminal elements coming in from other States adopt is that of being constantly on the move. For instance, a group of bag lifters hailing from a particular area in Thiruchirapalli in Tamil Nadu have virtually perfected the art of lifting bags from railway stations. They never live in permanent settlements and usually move from Delhi right up to Punjab. They have amassed wealth enough to build palatial houses back in their villages.

A couple of gangs of auto-lifters have been traced to the Mewat region of Haryana. They usually visit the Capital for a couple of days, lift vehicles during the night, and then hide the vehicles in their villages before disposing them of one by one.

Western Uttar Pradesh has practically been a breeding ground for criminals and many gangs from there have been successfully targeting the Capital. In fact, in 2005, the Delhi police arrested more than half-a-dozen criminals from U.P. who were carrying rewards. Some of the criminals shot dead in encounters were also from U.P.

On the other hand, the hub of illicit liquor trade is located in Haryana. In 2005, more than 14,000 cases were registered under the Excise Act. But one of the major players in the illicit liquor trade, Dalbir, who operates from Bahadurgarh in Haryana, is out of the police reach.

The police also concede that the problem of proliferation of illegal arms is becoming worse with every passing year and the situation is fast going beyond the control of the police. Firearms are easily available these days and, apart from many criminal elements, many private organisations and religious or pseudo-religious groups are also actively acquiring firearms for legal and illegal purposes, says a police officer.

Keeping an eye on the activities of criminals operating from neighbouring States in terms of prevention is virtually impossible. The problem worsens when first-timers from these States begin indulging in crime in the Capital.

Against this backdrop, the large number of arrests made in the Capital under various Special and Local Laws (SLLs) as part of preventive policing seemed to have been exercises in futility. More than 30,000 arrests were made under the SLLs (which include Arms Act and Excise Act, besides others like Gambling Act) in 2005. "The involvement of the listed local criminals is being ruled out at a very early stage in most of the cases. And, at least in districts sharing borders with other States, the movement of such criminals is practically unchecked," says an officer.

One possible solution to the problem could be creation of a huge database of criminals operating in neighbouring States and constantly updating it. But this will not only require extensive use of technology but also a willingness on the part of police forces of other States to work with the Delhi police to curb the problem.