Journey from 'petty thief' to idol lifter

For the residents of Kankanady B ward, the arrest of Santhosh alias Ghanshyam Das, the prime accused in Moodbidri Jain basadi theft case, brought the memory of a gloomy incident that took place three years ago. They are surprised, for once the ‘petty’ criminal, as they thought him to be, grew up to be a criminal stealing expensive idols in just a matter of few years.

On the mid-night of March 19, 2010, a group of youth from the civilian police beat who were on night patrolling in Kankanady had caught Santhosh U Das when he was trying to escape from their eyes, hiding behind the houses. The civilian police beat, an initiative of the residents of Kankanady area, was started on January 15, 2010 to keep a watch on the streets during night, following a series of burglary cases reported in the area including in Kankanady Mahalingeshwara temple. Within three months of the formation of the team, where local youth used to patrol on the roads, the team was successful in catching a thief. On the said day, at around 2 am, the beat comprising of four youth saw a person running in the colony in a suspicious manner. Immediately, the team alerted other residents too who went in search of the man. A group of three youth, Kritin Kumar, Nagesh Kallur and Suresh succeeded in catching the man who had escaped from their eyes. Upon catching him, he asked for drinking water and they saw a golden chain hidden in his mouth when he consumed water. As they opened bag, they also found a bundle of notes, iron rod, liver, a few literature and his driving licence bearing the name - Santhosh U Das. The residents realised that the bundle of note was stolen from a house in their area the previous night and so was the golden chain. They handed over the culprit to Kankanady police.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, senior member of the civilian police beat and District Red Cross President Prabhakar Shriyan said that he identified the Moodbidri case accused Santhosh Das as the same Santhosh Das whom they had produced before the police three years ago.“Though, Das was in police custody for a week, we were informed that no case was registered against him and he was released soon, for he did not reveal any information about the theft. Had he been punished then, Moodbidri incident would not have happened,” he said.

Shriyan has kept the licence of Santhosh Das, issued by Chattisgarh government, safe in his locker, even to this day.

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