The number of persons classified by the police as ‘rowdies’ in Chennai has marginally increased from 3,674 in May last year to 3,711 as of March 2 this year. Besides, the number of rowdies, classified in the ‘A+’ category (most notorious anti-social elements), has also gone up from 69 to 92 during the period.
Persons against whom a history-sheet for serious offences such as murder, assault, abduction and creating law and order issues, is maintained in the police stations are considered as ‘rowdy elements’. The police classify the rowdies under categories A+, A, B and C depending on the nature of offences in which the history sheeters are involved.
The Greater Chennai City Police had undertaken a reclassification exercise of the list of rowdies as part of the ongoing efforts to keep them under strict surveillance and prevent them from engaging in criminal activities. Greater Chennai Commissioner of Police Shankar Jiwal said, though the number of rowdies has gone up, the city is shorn of dreaded rowdies and of notorious gangs, which dominated the underworld in the past.
In May last year, 229 rowdies were classified in the A category, 1,481 in B category, and 1,894 in C category. In all, 3,674 persons were in the list of history sheeters with the city police. Following reclassification, as of March 2, 276 history-sheeters are in A category, 1,699 in B category and 1,644 in C category. Altogether, 3,711 rowdy elements are in the list of Greater Chennai City Police.
Explaining about reclassification, Mr. Jiwal said, “Over the years some of them have quit a life of crime. Keeping them on record constantly and counting them as ‘rowdy elements’ is not right. Also, many others had entered the profession. There was lack of coordination or lack of data on this aspect. Now, we have consolidated the data and are opening history sheets on them (new elements).”
The Commissioner, added, “We cannot keep somebody who is classified in the C category on our list for life. Later, he might have been involved in two or more murder cases and hence he has to be reclassified. The Deputy Commissioner who is the authority for opening history sheets keeps changing in one or two years and the continuity lost. So we decided to give a new thrust and updated the list. Upgrading and downgrading is required in the classification.”
As many as 130 ‘rowdy elements’ were arrested by the city police in the last six months during the Drive Against Rowdy Elements (DARE) operation. Among them, 25 are A+ category rowdies and 36 are A category. Balaji alias Kakka Thoppu Balaji, ‘Ennore’ Dhanasekaran, Manikandan alias ‘CD’ Mani, Binu Papachan, Vicky alias Vickneswaran and Kizhangu Saravanan are a few of the prominent names.
“All of these history sheeters after reclassification have been assigned to a Constable or Grade-I Head Constable depending on their grouping in their area and personnel have been given the responsibility of keeping tab on five to six history sheeters,” said Mr. Jiwal.
Mr. Jiwal said Deputy Commissioners should ensure that the trial against rowdies was conducted expeditiously and that it ended in conviction.
“Smaller rowdies resort to joining bigger gangs. Sustained pressure has broken up such gangs and there is no big boss who runs the show in the city. We keep chasing and monitoring the small gangs or any big names that crop up. Extortion gangs are shrinking and there are fewer inter-gang rivalries,” he said.
Mr. Jiwal said he has so far detained 99 rowdies under the Goondas Act. As many as 883 history sheeters were ‘bound over’ for keeping peace and 43 ‘bound down’ for violating the conditions in the bond.
The Commissioner said there were plans to launch a new programme for the rehabilitation of people who have reformed or are willing to give up the life of crime, shortly.