Mumbai Local

From murder to robbery, and the gang leader is just 16 years old

End of road:The gang of four arrested for a series of crimes in the Kalyan-Shahad belt; and (inset) the sword used by its leader. —photos: Kistu Fernandes  

When the Thane police Crime Branch on Tuesday morning zeroed in on a gang of four responsible for the murder of a 22-year-old girl at her Kalyan residence, they found that the gang was behind a spate of crimes in the Kalyan–Shahad belt. But what left the police amazed was that its leader was 16 years old.

“The four accused belong to the Katkari tribe and have no fixed sources of income. They took to crime around two-three months ago, and began by snatching cell phones from pedestrians. It was during this time that the juvenile displayed initiative and daring, becoming the leader of the gang. The others started following his lead while committing crimes,” said Nagesh Lohar, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Thane Crime Branch. In April, the gang began burgling houses and construction sites, attacking anyone who tried to stop them. “Even in these crimes, the juvenile was at the forefront. He would carry a sword with him, and would be the first to strike anyone in his path, while the others hesitated,” Mr Lohar said.

Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Makarand Ranade said, “Over time, the minor assumed responsibility of the violent and operative parts of the crime, while the others were reduced to acting as lookouts.”

Police officials said that they got on the trail of the gang after they began inquiries into the murder of a 22-year-old girl who was found dead at her residence in Khadakpada, Kalyan, on April 14. Priya Darawade was sleeping in her third floor flat when unknown persons entered the house through the balcony, stabbed her to death, and fled with her jewellery and cell phone. A complaint of murder and robbery was registered with the Khadakpada police and the Thane Crime Branch initiated parallel investigations.

“Investigations revealed that it was the minor who entered the house and killed the victim, while the others were keeping a watch outside the building,” said Mr Ranade.

The Crime Branch also found that there had been a series of crimes in the Kalyan–Shahad belt over the last one week.

Suspecting the crimes to be the handiwork of a gang of robbers operating at night, the Crime Branch began inquiries.

The gang’s first violent offence as per police records was in the early hours of April 9, when two watchmen at a residential complex in Shahad were attacked and seriously injured.

The very next day, a watchman at an under-construction project was beaten to death and his body was buried in a heap of sand at the site. A couple of hours later on the same day, a watchman at another under-construction building tried to stop the two men from stealing light bulbs from the site and was assaulted.

On Monday night, it received a tip-off about four young tribal men who commit robberies and stay at Bandarpada near Mohane village close to Kalyan. A trap was laid, and the gang was picked up around 6:30 am on Tuesday.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 3:20:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/news/from-murder-to-robbery-and-the-gang-leader-is-just-16-years-old/article8497032.ece

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