Until she got duped, Ruksana (name changed) enjoyed going to weddings. Though the celebrations, decorations and food still appeal to her, she is now sceptical of strangers at weddings. She has good reason to be suspicious since she was robbed of her expensive gold chain at a nuptial gathering. Her only mistake was her carelessness. She had put the gold chain in a purse that was later stolen. However, she isn’t the only victim.
Earlier this week, the Anti-Auto Theft Squad (AATS/North) arrested Javed alias Shahrukh (22) and Naushad alias Bona (24) for theft and operating a group which is now recognised by the Delhi Police as the “Barati gang”. Police recovered 107 mobile phones, 66 mobile batteries, 63 chargers, 84 earphones and 200 grams of gold jewellery from them.
The groom, i.e. the leader of the “Barati gang”, Naushad, has the stereotypical story of a criminal in-making. He could study only till 5th standard due to a lack of interest and no financial resources. Eventually, he started stealing from marriages, parties and in buses. The easy money made him extravagant and he fell for ganja, liquor and gambling. But the instant gratification wouldn’t last long since the money ran out quickly. To satisfy his cravings he started a gang. Javed came on board with Naushad’s idea, whose profile isn’t at all different from that of his friend’s. Together, they became thieves and burglars.
Popular as “baratis” among their friends, the duo would dress up in appropriate party clothes to blend in with the crowd and first enjoy the cocktails and the food at the wedding. “They would never steal at a wedding without consuming alcohol first. If there was no alcohol at the party, they would drink out of their own bottles and then commit the crime,” said Shailendra Tomar, Inspector, AATS/North.
The strategy of the duo was to roam around the close relatives of the bride and groom and steal valuable items like purses, mobile phones, cash or gifts given to the couple. “The duo has confessed to involvement in over 30 theft cases. But one can’t know for sure, as a large number of such cases go unreported. People at a wedding generally blame themselves for their carelessness rather than suspecting it to be a case of theft by an outsider. Due to petty thefts of mobiles, purses and other small items at marriage functions, people do not report such incidents to the police. Efforts are on to deliver the recovered mobile phones and jewellery to their rightful owners. However, the cash couldn’t be recovered as it had already been spent by the duo,” said Madhur Verma, DCP, North District.
“Their main targets used to be the Idgah marriage ground, Shastri Nagar marriage ground, Roshnara Club and Moti Nagar Banquets Hall, where they could conveniently gate crash. They stuck to sizeable gatherings and not high-profile weddings where stealing would have been more risky. After, the AATS got a tip-off, the police nabbed the baratis while they were on their way to sell the stolen valuables at Azad Market,” Tomar said.
But their lucrative easy money business could operate only during wedding seasons. “In the off season, they resorted to burglary. So far, they had robbed three shops dealing in electronic goods and smart phones in the old Delhi area. Right now, the baratis are in custody and won’t be able to benefit from the wedding season,” said a police official.