“The idea is to give shoppers a sense of security. Our constant presence will ensure immediate steps rather than waiting for local cops to come in. There will be multiple detective department teams — comprising officers from watch and anti-snatching units — at Gariahat, Hatibagan and New Market. In addition, teams will be posted outside malls in Park Circus, Jadavpur and other market areas like Burrabazar, Posta, Bhowanipore and Behala,” said an officer.
Police have also decided to seek help from women cops. “Following the Park Street incident, the All Women’s Team will patrol the central business district and south Kolkata markets. In addition, we will place the Shakti response vehicles at strategic locations so that any woman can approach them on the road,” explained an officer.
“The patrol vehicles have been asked to follow a dedicated route and serve key areas like Bowbazar, New Market,Shakespeare Sarani, Park Street and Bhowanipore,” said an officer. The control room monitors the movement of these vehicles.
Police have already travelled to a Bhopal jail and brought back one of the main accused who had been carrying out kepmaris across Hatibagan and Shyampukur during the lockdown. “The accused, Abid Ali, had targeted senior citizens — especially women — posing as a cop and fleeing with jewellery once they got tricked into believing him. He has some local conduits. We are trying to trace them,” said an officer.
The cops are also wary of Banjara gangs striking at the busy market places. With barely two weeks left for Durga Puja, the mad rush can offer them the perfect chance to strike, said cops. “Interrogation revealed that banjaras generally engage their wives and crowd at important crossings or enter into open rooms and flats and steal electronic gadgets, wallets and ornaments and slip away. If they are apprehended, they take the alibi of begging. The male members generally do not operate from the front line,” said an investigator.