A migrant headache for the police

Last Updated 25 May 2013, 20:50 IST

The rise in crimes in Bangalore over the last two decades can partly be attributed to the increasing inflow of migrant labourers, claim the City police.

Here’s why: A significant number of migrant labourers have been arrested for their involvement in crimes such as murders, attempts to murder, heists, thefts and sexual assaults. Labourers from West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, the Northeast, Odisha, parts of North Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu account for nearly 40 per cent of the total crimes witnessed in the City, say the police.

However, as M P Saravagol, an officer with CID, informs, the involvement of migrants is largely not seen in crimes such as abduction, supari killing, cheating, extortion, robberies, chain snatchings and vehicle thefts.

Police records show that some vested interests from Nepal, the Northeast and North India have formed groups, collecting crucial information from innocent labourers by issuing threats. The victims often end up committing crimes under the influence of alcohol and illicit relationships, points out retired Assistant Commissioner of Police, BB Ashok Kumar.

Poor paypackets could be one reason why the labourers fall prey to crime. Businessmen here prefer employing Nepalis and those from the North East as they are available for a meagre monthly salary of Rs 3,000, says a senior police officer heading the crime division.
Situation changed over the years

The Nepalis and those from the North East, known for integrity and sincerity, had migrated southwards towards the end of 1970s. They were mainly employed as security guards, and in tea and coffee plantations. A few of them indulged in crimes, returned to their native and turned rich. The trend attracted the attention of criminals back home, who found an opportunity in the City. They eventually formed gangs and began operations here.

As police officials recall, these gangs target huge amounts, sometimes exceeding Rs one crore. The loot would either be disposed of in Delhi or used to start their own business outlets in their native towns. Their pawns remained innocent labourers, who were used to collect information, to get crimes committed, before they disappeared with the booty. The gangsters would even commit murder if their plans did not succeed. Four years ago, a gang killed a security guard from their native town at Sampangiramnagar for refusing to divulge details about the owner.

Tough to crack cases

The police find it tough to crack cases involving Nepalis due to lack of cooperation from the police there. The tough geographical conditions such as mountains and dense forests make the task even more cumbersome. An entire village would rush to the rescue of a suspect whenever a police team from India reached there for arrests. They are also sometimes attacked with lethal weapons. This is one reason why the detection rate of crimes involving Nepalis is so low, notes Ashok Kumar.

A river bridge links India and Nepal at the border. The bridge is closed at dusk till the next day morning. The Indian police reach the bridge before the suspects arrive there and arrest them. In fact, many arrests have been made near the bridge, adds Ashok Kumar.
Police records show that some of those from Bangladesh prefer circulation  of counterfeit notes, and sale of arms. Gangs from the Northeast have taken to bike thefts.

The police feel illiteracy, poverty, exploitation and pathetic social conditions have affected with the senses of these labourers at a tender age, triggering feelings of revenge on the society. The distance from their native place and the identity factor make them feel that they could easily get away once they commit crimes.

(Published 25 May 2013, 20:50 IST)

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