Three members of the ‘Namaste Gang’, accused of allegedly greeting people before snatching their gold jewellery and phones, were arrested after cross-firing from Shahdara on Thursday.
Police said the accused were involved in a series of snatching incidents in Shahdara where they allegedly targeted morning walkers, especially the elderly, at gunpoint. They are also involved in robberies and snatching cases in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.
Describing their modus operandi, police said the gang members used stolen bikes and scooters to scout for suitable targets in the morning. Once they found their target, one of them greeted him/her with a ‘namaste’ to divert their attention and then they pulled out weapons to threaten them and rob them. Before leaving, they would greet the person by saying ‘namaste’, police added.
Senior officers said the gang grew more active in the last few weeks and would commit multiple crimes within a day. Two days ago, they allegedly targeted a 45-year-old man walking outside Delhi University’s Vivekanand College, snatched his gold bracelet and fled, police said. Within 15-20 minutes, four from the gang reached Seemapuri and allegedly snatched a gold bracelet from a property dealer, police added.
DCP (Shahdara) R Sathiyasundaram said, “Seeing the gang’s activities, we immediately registered cases and found that the accused would come on a bike and a scooter. Our teams mapped the entry and exit routes from the spots and analysed more than 150 CCTVs in two days. We found that the accused fled to Ghaziabad.”
On Thursday, a team was sent to Vivekanand College while others were posted at the entry/exit points to catch the accused. “We received information that they are coming back to the same area to target morning walkers. We wanted to catch them red-handed. Around 4.30 am, the men were spotted. Our teams surrounded them and asked them to surrender but they pulled out weapons and fired at our team. One of the bullets hit the bulletproof jacket of a staffer,” said the DCP.
Police retaliated and fired at the accused. One of them was shot in the leg and two of them were arrested. They were questioned and another gang member was arrested with their help.
The accused, Afzal (32), Mohd Shamshad (23) and Shahid (43), are involved in over 15 cases. The fourth accused is still on the run.
Police said the gang members revealed that they stored weapons to keep themselves safe. They rented a place in Shalimar Garden Extension where they would assemble and plan the robberies, police added.