City dwellers generally know the capital well enough to be on their toes while going about their day-to-day business. However, muggers, hijackers and snatchers have remained a serious threat in the city thoroughfares for decades.
Helena Begum, an employee of the Green Life Hospital, returned to Dhaka from Barisal on Friday morning after a vacation.
As she was crossing the road at the Dhanmondi Road 7 area around 5am, a group of criminals drove by on a white private car, and snatched Helena’s bag. The woman lost her balance and fell down on the road. The snatchers ran her over without mercy, dragging her some distance and leaving her dead on the spot.
Inspector (investigation) of Dhanmondi Police Station, Parvez Islam confirmed the incident to the Dhaka Tribune, saying that the law enforcers are trying to track down these culprits.
In another incident, the local people caught a mugger named Faisal Rahman Sohel red-handed while he was snatching a bag, riding on a motorcycle in Mirpur's BRTA area on January 1 this year.
Upon searching him, around 60 women’s purses, many gold ornaments, 250 keys, Tk24,000 in cash, national identity cards, dozens of debit and credit cards belonging to different people and 50 to 60 SIM cards were found.
He was handed over to the police, and Kafrul Police Station's Assistant Sub Inspector Mahfuzur Rahman filed a case against him the next morning.
During initial interrogation, Faisal confessed that he has been mugging people in the Mirpur Section 10 to 14 areas since the past two to three years.
The activities of the “Tana party” (gang of muggers that snatch bags or other belongings from people using cars or motorbikes) have recently increased in Dhaka.
On December 18 last year, the members of a muggers’ gang snatched a couple’s bag, while they were climbing on to a rickshaw in Dayaganj area of Jatrabari. Their baby Arafat fell from their arms on to the street and died of injuries during the mugging.
The incident drew condemnation from all across the country. The Detective Branch of Dhaka Metropolitan Police started a special operation to arrest the members of the hijackers and doping gangs following the tragic incident.
Hundreds of hijackers and muggers were arrested by law enforcers since then. On December 26, 2017, 56 people were arrested in a single day.
However, the continued raids against these criminal gangs have failed to completely halt their illicit activities.
Data collected from different sources and victims reveal that at least ten incidents of mugging occur in the capital every day, and more than 300 hijacking incidents have already occurred in this month.
However, sources from the DMP stated that only 79 cases have been filed over these incidents from January to October, 2017.
Speaking to the correspondent, a number of victims claimed that they did not go to the authorities to avoid police hassle.
“The success of the police for rescuing lost or stolen goods is quite low,” some of the victims alleged.
A victim of the snatchers’ gang, Farida Khanam told the Dhaka Tribune that she has been victimized by the muggers twice in her life.
The first time, the mugger failed to take her bag. But the second time the snatcher succeeded, and she fell from the rickshaw in an attempt to protect her belongings. Farida lives in fear of being attacked by the muggers again.
Tanjina Khanam, another victim of the muggers, had the same experience several years ago.
She was returning home from the office. After reaching the Mohammadpur area, a moving private car pulled her bag. She fell from the rickshaw and broke one of her hands.
Tanjina’s hand healed after a long treatment, but she is still horrified about her experience on that day.
Responding to a query, Dhaka Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner (media) Masudur Rahman told the Dhaka tribune: “The female victim’s death at the time of mugging in Dhanmondi area is an isolated incident. It does not mean that this particular type of crime has increased in Dhaka.
“The law and order situation in the city is under control. A few such incidents are still occurring, but we have arrested and taken action against those who were involved.”
Meanwhile, Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) Legal and Media Wing Director Mufti Mahmud Khan said: “We frequently detain muggers and hijackers lurking in the city. Apart from establishing check posts in important parts of the capital, RAB regularly patrols the thoroughfares to prevent muggings and other crimes.