LAW &ORDER 110 petty offenders were produced before the Salem Revenue Divisional Officer, writes R. Ilangovan

THE POLICE have started adopting a two-pronged strategy to tackle `rowdyism' in the city.

While the law enforcers maintain a sustained monitoring of the movements of notorious criminals and habitual offenders, they, for the first time in the recent past, have nabbed even the one-time petty offenders.

The police had to burn midnight oil to rummage through the archaic dossiers, which contained their curricula vitae, to trace them.

Thus they traced 110 such petty offenders. They were booked under Section 110 of Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.PC) and were produced before the Salem Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) M. Selvaraj, who as the Sub Divisional Magistrate has the powers to "ensure good behaviour" from them.

The RDO asked them to commit in writing on their "promises of good behaviour" after accepting a surety of Rs. 500 each submitted by any one of their close relatives.

The official also asked them not to resurrect their criminal past and advised them to remain law-abiding citizens. Many of them told him that they were now living peacefully well within the "ambit of law." Many more had come with their children and wives.

They were all released after completing the necessary legal formalities. "These petty offenders are small-time criminals whose activities then mainly were confined to the causing of "public nuisance." Almost all of them had been punished for their unlawful activities.

They are now leading a legally recognized life," points out a senior police officer, who coordinates the drive against rowdyism in the city. But for the policemen tracing each one of these petty offenders had been a painful exercise. Many of them had migrated to other places of course within the city limits and without informing the police stations concerned.

"It is mandatory for them to inform the police stations whenever they move into new localities for various reasons. But many do not follow the rule strictly mainly due to ignorance," says the officer. The police as a result had to strain every sinew to pursue all leads to trace them. The computerisation of police records has played a vital role in as far as the cases of habitual offenders are concerned.

"Many of them are inside the prisons and the very few who are out either on bail or on release are being watched closely. Many of those who have jumped bails have been arrested," the official adds. The City Police on instructions from the Commissioner Gopalakrishnan have arrested 50 persons for drunken driving and made them to pay fines ranging from Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 2,000 in the court. Now the police have started concentrating on the elusive chain snatchers, who are on the prowl on the city streets of late. They are hopeful of nabbing them shortly, of course.