Bizarre tool to catch criminals

Bizarre tool  to catch criminals


While it is well known that  wooden cots are used to  sleep at night only some people are aware that it can be used as a tool for criminal investigation and substitute the  role of police to catch thieves. Yes, if a section of the people in Orissa are to be believed then wooden cots have the potential to identify criminals.

Reports of some villagers adopting this bizarre method to recover their stolen valuables have already surfaced from more than one place in the state over the last few months. Interestingly, the phenomenon is now on the upswing even in an urban centre like the capital --Bhubaneswar where a majority of the people are considered to be supposedly progressive in their thinking.
 
The modus operandi to execute this unique exercise is simple. If a person realizes that their valuables like gold ornaments, money or clothes have been stolen from the house then they would contact a self-styled "expert" in the field. The "expert" then would visit the place and perform a puja on a wooden cot arranged by the complainant.

The puja would begin with bathing the cot. Subsequently, the expert would hum some 'slokas' and direct four people to lift the cot and carry it on their shoulders from four sides. The "sacred cot" then would automatically drag the four men to the house of the culprit responsible for stealing the valuables. According to people who have faith in this type of strange exercise, there are instances of "sacred cots" traveling from one village to another village to catch a thief.
 
A few days ago, in Ganga Nagar at Bhubaneswar, some valuables like gold ornaments and cash were stolen from the house of resident, an employee of a government run hospital. The incident occurred when the house was locked and all members of the family had gone out.

On the advise of neighbours and friends, the man consulted an expert from the neighbouring coastal district of Nayagarh and arranged the cot exercise to catch the thief. The cot had started moving around in the locality when the police stepped in and the exercise came to a grinding halt.

Some people are of the view that it was the inefficiency of the police that has been forcing citizens to opt for alternatives like the cot exercise to solve their problems. According to them, the police take burglary and theft cases very lightly unless one is a VIP and seldom catches thieves to recover the stolen valuables.  In fact, in the Bhubaneswar incident, the man had registered a case with the local police but they reportedly failed to take appropriate action.

Stringent action

The police officials, however, disagree. "In many minor theft cases, the police arrests the culprits and recover the stolen goods. I agree there are instances of negligence. But that does not mean we will allow this type of 'cot catching a thief' nonsense to go on. Stringent action would be taken against those who  found indulging in such acts", said a senior police officer.

After intervening in the Bhubaneswar incident, the police had detained a self styled 'expert' and his assistant. However, both of them were released subsequently after the residents threatened to gherao the local police station and launch an agitation.
But there are many people who support the police's view and feel that the strongest possible action should be taken against  those participating in such unlawful activities.

"The government should come down heavily on the persons involved in this “cot-catching-a-thief-exercise’ which is illegal as it lacks any legal sanctions. The so called experts should also be put behind the bars and punished heavily for misguiding and misleading innocent people", said Saroj Mishra, a Bhubaneswar resident.

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