Dark Nights….!
Maxwell Pereira


Dark nights in police parlance do not augur well for the community in terms of their propensity for crime incidence. Under cover of dark, criminals find it more convenient to commit robberies, dacoities, house break-ins and lootings and fade away easily. Over the centuries, certain ethnic tribes developed a measure of success in eking their livelihood through a life devoted to commission of crime, especially during dark nights. The British termed them 'The Criminal Tribes of India'.

Came Independence in 1947, and the Government of India rightly de-notified them to bring them within the purview of the reformatory measures and reservations earmarked for the 'scheduled tribes'. Many took advantage of the Government's developmental and benevolent policies, especially in terms of reservations in services etc. and plunged on to a path of progress. For many others though, the die-hard habit of an addiction to a life of crime was something that could not easily be given up.

Hence, dark night policing continues to attract measures to contain members of these so-called ex-criminal tribes; and over the years, such of these tribes which still fight a rear guard action against giving up a life of crime have been listed by various police forces of the country according to their particular and peculiar modus operandi, rituals, areas of operation and so on.

Many of these tribes still consider the commission of crime a sacred ritual - a God sent means for their livelihood. And hence from headman down to last member of the tribal village/community, every person required to participate and be a part and parcel of the entire operation. The ritual normally begins with a prayer invoking blessings of the particular deity worshipped by the tribe, to facilitate the crime they are about to commit; that the same may yield sizeable bounty, without detection or harm to any member. The implements and weapons for crime are picked up from the place where they were buried after the last operation, as prudently none of these could be taken back to the place/ village/ abode. They would commute in gypsy caravans and camp mostly in the vicinity/ outskirts of the targeted city. Rarely is a city to be made the abode for more than a couple of days. And for commission of crime they would use the rail network to travel the length and breadth of the country - to a targeted place near or far… be it Bangalore one day, Ludhiana two days later, or Delhi the next.

Recce parties survey the likely target systematically - each tribe with its own typical method to recce. Some as common street vendors - selling wares; some others as sellers of balloons and children's toys; moving around during the day in residential colonies observing keenly the contours and parameters with an eye for detail. Often, the chosen house likely to be the one next to the last one in a lane - with perhaps enough of a façade for a hideaway just out of sight of the targeted house. They would rest in empty plots or a public park, behind sheds or a compound wall till be appointed hour of attack; some would take a night movie and then assemble together at the decided place.

The attack would be in the wee hours of the morning, past midnight, when the inmates' slumber would be deep, in summer the sounds of coolers and air-conditioners masking and blocking the noise. Most criminal tribe members vicious and ruthless, arming themselves with cudgels or the leg-post of a charpoy used to crack skulls of sleeping inmates. Scenes left behind are gory - with battered bodies in numbers, accompanied by frenzied ransacking. A sure indicator of a criminal minded tribe attack, the tell tale visiting card - the tendency often, for a member to defecate in the premises.

Post commission of crime, many use railway tracks for escape routes. To travel for miles on foot before taking public conveyance in the morning from a neighbouring town or suburban locality. The loot, taken charge of by designated member/s to be buried, and retrieved only when the heat and the dust has settled, sometimes months later - the proceeds distributed only by the Sarpanch and the village elders.

Those operating in metropolises like Delhi in the past decades have belonged to the Bawaria, Kanjar, Sansi and the Pardi tribes, traditionally committing burglaries and robberies that come within the purview of Section 460 IPC (armed house break-ins with murder). In outskirts and factory areas, gangs of Purabiya (Eastern U.P. & Bihari) criminals are found in similar crimes.

Criminals from the Sansi tribe diverted their attention to illicit liquor and then on to narcotics. Many among them also modernized to higher degrees of operational ability with motor vehicles and vans in the commission of night crimes. Some concentrate also on jewellery shops and showrooms, and one rarely has violence attributed to them. With the heat trained on clandestine liquor trade, many sansi youth have taken to 'snatching's.
The Bawarias,mainly from Jhinjana, Muzaffarnagar, Hodal, Kaithal, Gannaur, Jhajjar and Dadri, as also the Pardis of Guna and Babina, are still linked though to dark night crimes that occur.

In recent years, dark night crime has not remained the prerogative of ex-criminal tribes. Starting from the Kuchha-banian gangs mainly of Purabiyas and Kanjars, the Bangladeshi criminals have taken over the territory in a big way with tremendous networking for recruiting, operating and transporting criminals and loot across the border, whichever be the city in India they target.

900 words: dated 10.08.2004: Copy Right © Maxwell Pereira: 3725 Sec-23, Gurgaon-122002. You can interact with the author at http:// www.maxwellperira.com and maxpk@vsnl.com


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