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Snatchers’ gangs active in Dhaka ahead of Eid
Bank official Azizur Rahman was sitting on his window seat on a bus in Gulistan, Dhaka on Sunday, waiting for the bus to start its journey so he could go home before iftar. He felt someone make a sudden grab at his face and realised that his glasses were gone.
The spectacles-snatcher had gotten away before he could react. Sheuli Chowdhury’s loss was significantly worse at the hands of snatchers. On the afternoon of May 19, she was going to Panthapath, Dhaka on a rickshaw when two young men riding a motorcycle snatched away her laptop.
Sheuli screamed for help, but no one came forward to catch the culprits. She filed a general diary (GD) with Dhanmondi police station; the police have yet to recover the stolen laptop or arrest the laptop snatchers.
Like Sheuli and Aziz, a good number of Dhaka residents have lost valuables to snatchers who have been significantly active in the past two months – ahead of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr. Gangs of these Ramadan snatchers are particularly active in Gulshan-Banani, Dhanmondi-Kalabagan, Mohammadpur and Uttara residential areas.
They come in motorcycles, expensive cars and microbuses, snatch away the valuables from people and quickly get away, said law enforcement sources. According to sources at the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) headquarters, nine cases of mugging and snatching have been reported in April, and 10 cases have been reported in May in Dhaka metropolitan area.
Police do not have any data on June muggings, nor do they have the exact number of GDs on such incidents, the sources said. Many more cases go unreported because the victims say they want to avoid further harassment. Some people like Sheuli Chowdhury do report the muggings, but in most cases police do not do anything to help them, complained several victims.
But police sources say they have been successful in catching some snatchers. Kalabagan police arrested two snatchers on Wednesday for stealing cash money and a pick-up van in Kalabagan area on Tuesday.
The victim filed the case on Tuesday and police were able to find the culprits by 24 hours. Similarly, Pallabi police arrested three snatchers on Tuesday who forced a man named Abu Nayem into their car and snatched his valuables away before dumping him from their car on Saturday.
DMP Commissioner Md Asaduzzaman Mia, however, said on Monday that there had been no snatching incidents in Dhaka during Ramadan, which started on May 28, because of increased police surveillance.
Speaking at an event at Mohakhali bus terminal, he said police and intelligence officials in plain clothes were working to keep the city streets safe. “If any snatchers are found on the streets, they [the law enforcement officials] will catch them.”
Asked about the victims’ complaints, DMP Deputy Commissioner (Media) Masudur Rahman told the Dhaka Tribune that police had taken extra precautions for Ramadan and Eid to prevent snatching and mugging.
“We have arrested criminals by conducting raids. We have also set up check points in vulnerable areas, and police teams are patrolling the city on foot, motorcycle and pick-ups day and night. Surveillance of intelligence agency have also been increased,” he added.