Failing to tackle chain snatchers, cops take to moral policing

May 09, 2013, 07:37 IST | Sandip Kolhatkar

Police personnel quizzed, penalised and even released a press note with details of several people sitting on Z Bridge � a popular evening hangout for youngsters � yesterday. Cops said they were acting on the possibility that snatchers were hiding in the vicinity, and claimed that couples were indulging in obscene acts at the spot.

It appears the city police has rightly diagnosed the malaise of chain snatching plaguing the city, but has come up with an unsound line of treatment. In what can only be described as moral policing, Vishrambaug police yesterday took action against 21 youths sitting on Z Bridge, which comes under the jurisdiction of Deccan police station — and also made their names public through a press note. 

Wrong turn:  Cops say no chain snatcher was found on Z Bridge during the drive, but they penalised people for inappropriately parking their vehicles on the road. Pic/Krunal Gosavi 

When contacted, senior inspector of Vishrambaug police station Arjun Sakunde said, “We got directives from deputy commissioner of police (zone I) Makarand Ranade to take action against the couples, which sit on the Z Bridge in the evening and even indulge in obscene acts.  There was a possibility that chain snatchers, after committing crimes, would have come here to hide themselves. So, in a bid to check incidents of snatching, we went ahead and checked everybody there, and even penalised many for parking their vehicles on the bridge.”

Spot of bother: Z Bridge in Deccan Gymkhana area is a favourite haunt of youngsters Pic/Krunal Gosavi

When MiD DAY asked whether the cops found any chain snatchers in the crowd, Sakunde replied in the negative and said the youths were let off after being fined over parking issues, and chatting and indulging in obscene acts.  Vishrambaug police did not stop here. Cops went ahead and released a press note mentioning the names of the 21 youths who were quizzed on Z Bridge, a favourite haunt for couples.  Sources say couples meeting at the spot in the evening have been fined several times by the traffic department for parking their vehicles, but never have their names been released to the press before. 

When contacted, DCP Ranade expressed surprised after being made aware of the press note, and said that he will look into the matter. He said the cops had received complaints from citizens about couples planting their vehicles on the road and indulging in licentious acts, and hence Vishrambaug and Deccan Gymkhana police station cops were directed to take action against offenders.

“However, I never asked them to divulge the names of youths who were caught sitting there,” said Ranade. Renowned human rights activist Advocate Aseem Sarode said, “Police need to uphold basic fundamental rights of every individual. Such procedures influenced by moral policing are not in accordance with the law. If these people collectively decide to file a defamation case against erring police officers, we will provide free legal aid.”

Meanwhile, four chain-snatching incidents were reported from the jurisdictions of Vishrambaug, Khadak, Sahakar Nagar and Bharati Vidyapeeth police stations yesterday.  

21 No of youths who were quizzed and penalised on Z Bridge by cops

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