Delhi: Guns easy to buy, robbers on rampage in city
THREE masked gunmen robbed a businessman and his wife as he pulled over his Mercedes - with two minor children inside - in the parking area of his house in Northwest Delhi's Model Town early on Sunday. They also fired at cops outside while leaving the area.
The same gang robbed a 24x7 pharmacy in Southeast Delhi's New Friends Colony, another affluent neighbourhood, early on Tuesday.
The gang is yet to be identified. While the twin cases - both caught on CCTV cameras - have shocked many, what's more shocking is how the cases of armed robberies are spiralling in the National Capital.
2018 saw 2,444 robberies. This year, till June, 1,140 cases have been filed. While 170 cases were reported in April, the number in June was 193.
"Criminals are fearless. Back-to-back robberies have terrified us. CCTV footages of these cases are circulating in our WhatsApp groups," said Shruti Malik (34).
"What happened in Model Town can happen to any one of us. We also have a similar parking area. I couldn't sleep for two nights. I don't know what the police are doing to ensure safety," said the engineer who works in Gurugram and lives in South Delhi's Panchsheel Park. She is planning to install cameras at home that can supply live feed on her phone. "We need this. My children spend several hours alone at home as my husband and I return from work late in the evening," she said.
Many complainants also find police investigation troublesome. Gunmen snatched a gold chain and Rs 10,000 from South Delhi resident Rishabh in February. The accused were arrested last month.
"I was called to the prison to identify them from a group. I was called to the court as well, to identify my chain that was no more in the real form. Police said they recovered it when it was being melted," he said.
EASY ACCESS TO GUNS
The Delhi Police say easy availability of illegal guns has emboldened criminals to commit robberies. This can be understood even from the number of firearms seized by the police that's spiked by 105% in two years - from 947 in 2016 to 1,950 in 2018.
This year, till May 15, 1,081 recoveries have already been made. Delhi is surrounded by western Uttar Pradesh's districts such as Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad and Baghpat used as transit routes to bring in illegal arms. Sometimes gunrunners also use longer routes via Haryana's Sonepat, Rohtak, Jhajjar, Gurugram and Faridabad to enter Delhi.
Rackets also use prominent stretches such as NH 24, NH 58 and Kundli-Palwal Expressway to deliver consignments. A police officer said that 105 entry and exit points connected to Delhi have been identified.
Munger and Madhya Pradesh's Khargone have been two top gun centres. They were home to ordnance factories even before the British came to India. The operations were later shut, but reduced supplies continue.
Delhi Police Spokesperson Madhur Verma confirmed gunrunners from Uttar Pradesh's Meerut, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar are making supplies to criminals in Delhi.
Referring to a recent crime analysis, he said even firsttimers use firearms to commit robberies and do not hesitate in firing. "Easy availability of arms helps criminals commit robberies," he said. Police data shows that 80% firearms used in robberies are illegal, including country-made ones.
imprisonment for 10 years and a fine. Till the court trial starts, he is sent to jail as an under-trial inmate. "Before his conviction, he comes out on bail and starts crime again. What's the use of arresting and sending him to prison?" asked former Delhi Police official LN Rao.
Cops said strong action is being taken against robbers. "In 2018 and 2019, about 80% of cases have been solved with the arrest of about 5,700 accused," said an official.
"Special Cell and Crime Branch have launched a crackdown against supplies of illegal arms. We retaliate when they open fire to escape," said New Delhi DCP Verma. Special Cell DCP PS Kushwah also said, "We have busted several rackets of illegal arms suppliers."
Additional Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime Branch) Rajeev Ranjan said cops were making concerted efforts to ensure robbers are convicted swiftly. "When cases are transferred to Crime Branch, special teams are formed before evidences are lost. We ensure maximum recovery so that conviction becomes easier," he said.
WHERE ARE THE 3 MASKED MEN?
The two cases are a chilling reminder of multiple robberies by a group of bikers that rocked Delhi in 2008. Police sources said investigators have solid leads, and both Model Town and New Friends Colony cases would be cracked in a couple of days. DCP (North-West) Vijayanta Arya said various teams are on the job.
"Each team is reporting to its supervisor every hour. CCTV footages from both Model Town and New Friends Colony are being minutely analysed. We have prepared rough sketches and shared them with local police, Crime Branch and Special Cell," she said.
DCP (South-West) Chinmoy Biswal said more than 100 CCTV cameras installed in and around the 24x7 shop and on roads leading to it are being scanned for leads.
"Teams are working 24x7. Inter-state police help is also being taken as there is a possibility of the robbers hiding in neighbouring cities and towns. Records of previous such robberies are also being looked at," he said.