Even as officials of the police chowky on the Carter Road promenade regularly chase innocent groups of friends and couples from the area, a gang of two has been snatching chains from unsuspecting morning walkers for the past two months. Fifty six year-old Yatin Dossa, a businessman from Mount Mary Road was assaulted by a sudden blow to the neck by two unidentified motorcyclists last Sunday morning.
They managed to flee with his gold chain worth over Rs 1 lakh. “I have been taking morning walks on Carter Road with three friends for many years. At around 7.20 am last Sunday, I was suddenly struck on the neck by two young boys who appeared to be in their early twenties. They sped away with my gold chain before we could react,” said Dossa.
Dossa’s shouts for help attracted the attention of a police constable posted in the area, who joined him in chasing the robbers in a rickshaw, but they were no match for the speeding bike. “I am gutted because more than the monetary value it carries, the locket attached to my chain was given to me by my late spiritual Guru and is irreplaceable,” said Dossa, who subsequently filed an FIR at Khar Police station, a copy of which is with Sunday MiD DAY.
“Initially the cops registered a case of robbery under IPC section 379 for theft, which attracts a maximum imprisonment of three years, but on Saturday it was changed to section 392, which pertains to a robbery of a more serious nature and can be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 14 years,” he added.
Forty five year-old Vincent Mathias, a member of the H West Federation, also had his gold chain, worth over Rs 1 lakh, snatched from Carter Road in a similar fashion last month. “I am aware of upto 10 cases of chain snatchings in and around Carter Road. Both crimes were committed by the same person, who is short and stout, with curly hair and a moustache,” said Mathias, who saw what happened to Dossa.
Two days before Dossa was robbed, 52 year-old A Madhavan, another avid morning walker and resident of Carter Road, was accosted by two men in their mid-twenties right outside his house. “The men, who were in a rickshaw, used foul Hindi expletives and told me ‘phut le varna uda denge’(‘get lost or we shoot’) before decamping with my gold chain worth over Rs 60,000, and along with it, the Rs 50 I keep in my pocket as emergency rickshaw fare in case of rain,” he said.
Rajesh Jain, another resident of Khar said that a person fitting the same description had pushed his mother Sayanben Jain (58) and decamped with her chain near Khar Jain Mandir. “My mother had to be treated for the bruises she sustained,” he said.
H (West) Federation chairperson and Khar Residents’ Association managing trustee Anandini Thakoor said that it was also the responsibility of citizens not to flaunt their jewellery in public. “Church and temple goers, dressed in their Sunday best, are easy targets. These rogues manage to flee into the narrow bylanes of Carter Road even before the police can be alerted,” said Thakoor.
Thakoor rued that in the recent past, there were two cases where alert citizens were able to nab the chain snatchers, but the accused walked scot free as the victims refused to lodge a police complaint once their property was recovered.
Addl CP (West) Vishwas Nangre Patil, whose office is located on Carter Road, said that the vigil on Carter Road has been tightened. “Armed policemen are posted on both ends of the road, and two sets of cops on motorbikes are keeping a constant vigil on the situation. Based on the description given by the victims, we have some clues and are investigating,” he said.
Too fast, too furious
On June 10, 2012, six chains, estimated at around Rs 3 lakh, were snatched within a span of half-an-hour on the Carter Road stretch of Bandra-Khar. Most of the victims were elderly women. All the incidents took place early in the morning with the thieves coming on motorcycles and speeding away after snatching the victims’ chains.
Shila Varda, a homemaker, had her handbag, containing two mobile phones and a necklace, worth approximately Rs 1 lakh, stolen from inside her moving rickshaw, less than a year ago, at Khar. “We were near a junction at Linking Road in Khar, which leads towards Carter Road, when two men on a bike swooped into our moving rickshaw and decamped with my bag in broad daylight. The description of a plump man described in the Carter Road chain snatching matches the one I encountered.”