How safe are IT professionals in Silicon City is the question

K.V. Subramanya

Four software engineers murdered for gain in the last 2 years

BANGALORE: The murder of young software engineer Manoj Kumar has thrown up the all-important question: how safe are information technology (IT) professionals working in Bangalore?

With the influx of IT and ITES companies to the city, there is a notion that professionals from these firms are increasingly becoming soft targets for criminals.

In the past two years, at least four young software engineers were murdered and robbed of cash, credit and debit cards, mobile phones and gold. These cases were reported from the South East division of the city police, which has jurisdiction over the IT corridor.

While 24-year-old Manoj was a native of Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, Adeep Lahiri (32), murdered in December 2006, and Rakesh Kumar (25), strangled in April 2005, were from Kolkata and Ranchi. Pratibha Srikanth Murthy (24), who was done to death in December 2005, was from the State.

First-time offenders

Interestingly, these murders were committed not by organised gangs but by first-time offenders. One of the accused in Lahiri's murder was an IT company employee and the other a former housekeeping employee at ITPL. The alleged mastermind of Manoj's killing was an attender in a software company.

Besides these murders, in the past three years some 50 employees of IT firms, business process outsourcing (BPO) units and call centres have been waylaid and robbed of cash and valuables by armed robbers.

According to the police, the odd working hours and often flashy lifestyle of the software professionals and BPO executives are the major causes for the crimes. Criminals target software engineers as they assume these highly paid professionals always carry with them cash, credit cards, high-end mobile phones and laptops.

IT professionals going home late are increasingly the easy target of robbers. An analysis of such crimes shows that in most of the cases, the victims were robbed between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. Most of these professionals are immediately recognisable because of the identity cards slung around their neck.

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