Mumbai Crime: Another Palghar prawn farm robbed by gang of thieves

Updated: Jun 22, 2020, 07:20 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Spate of attacks on aquaculture farms in city's outskirts continues as dacoits take 500 kg prawns

One of the ponds at Datiware Maritime Infra Ltd, Patil's prawn farm
One of the ponds at Datiware Maritime Infra Ltd, Patil's prawn farm

Just a little under a month since mid-day reported about the spate of thefts at Saphale in Palghar, on Thursday, June 18, Dativare village was rocked by another such robbery. At 10 pm the Datiware Maritime Infra Ltd, a prawn farm in the village in the district, was burgled by a gang of thieves who immobilised the night watchman, and robbed the seafood.

Nachiket Patil, the farm owner, said, "A gang of about 16 people came in boats on the ponds in my farm, to rob the fish. They were armed with knives, sticks and sickles. They tied up the night watchman and immobilised him, making him sit in one place.

Patil says some of his workers were injured in the fracas with the prawn thieves
Patil says some of his workers were injured in the fracas with the prawn thieves

"He managed to make a call to the farm manager who arrived with some labourers, and there was a fracas. Some of my workers were injured. The thieves got away, eventually. I estimate they may have gone off with 500 kg, worth approximately R1,50,000, by the time this dangerous incident ended."

Planned loot
Patil said that prawn thefts and attacks on farmers are fast becoming the bane of an industry, "that contributes R50,000 crore revenue in exports. This theft at my farm was a planned loot. Earlier we saw two to three persons arriving at farms to rob. Today, these are gangs, and the arms are being carried with an intent to harm. Someone may be killed in the fight that ensues."

Nachiket Patil
Nachiket Patil

Political intervention
Several farmers through this belt, many from Mumbai, are increasingly alarmed at the rising crime. On February 29 this year, a group of them met deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Ajit Pawar at his Mumbai residence handing him a letter (a copy of which is with this paper) outlining the growing problem of theft.

Police action
Said Patil, "We have lodged many complaints at police stations. I have filed this latest complaint, (paper in receipt of complaint copy) at Kelwa Sagari police station. We are waiting for action," he added.

Assistant Police Inspector (API) R Nalawade of Kelwa Sagari police station acknowledged he had the complaint.

He said, "We have apprehended a number of persons in previous complaints. I am also struggling, as novel Coronavirus has meant at least five villages have been quarantined, and some of my men are deployed there. I have two men on night patrol whose telephone numbers are with these prawn farmers, and they can call them in case of an emergency."

The Inspector though said that the owners need to deploy private security. "When you have 250 acres, and your scale of business is such, so should your security measures. You cannot have labourers who work in the day, doubling up as security at night. These owners must also have extensive CCTV coverage," Nalawade said.

Rs 1.5 lakh
Approximate worth of the 500 kg stolen prawns

18
Day in June when the theft took place

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