By Zafar Abbas
New Delhi, Oct 11 (IANS) Memories of the morbid visuals of the two jeweller brothers hanging at their Chandni Chowk shop is still fresh in the minds of local businessmen and onlookers who gathered at the spot in August this year. Both Ankit and Arpit ended their lives after they were harassed by loan sharks for clearing their debts which they had supposedly taken after suffering financial loss during the lockdown.
This isn’t the only turmoil faced by jewellers. They are also victims of armed loot and robberies in and around the national capital. Several cases of gunmen entering jewellery shops in NCR also came up where the robbers have not hesitated in opening fire if they face resistance.
Take for instance the infamous robbery at a jeweller’s showroom in Aligarh whose viral video made headlines in September this year. The robbers sanitised their hands and then casually pointed country-made guns at the store workers as they proceeded to fill their bag with jewellery. The whole incident was caught on CCTV which created a sensation on social media. The trio was arrested within a week in a shootout in Noida in which they sustained bullet injuries.
A 32-year-old jeweller was shot at while he tried to resist an armed robbery at his shop in Badalpur in Greater Noida in earlier this month. The robbers who came on bikes fired a shot at the jeweller when he put up resistance. He was hit in the hand.
In September, five armed robbers struck at a jewellery shop in Indirapuram and fled with gold and silver ornaments worth Rs 8 lakh after holding the shop owner at gunpoint.
Not just loot and robbery the jewellers have recently also become victims of kidnapping.
In October, Delhi Police went to Meerut in search of a kidnapped jeweller. The 50-year-old jeweller, a resident of Karol Bagh in Delhi was kidnapped for ransom and kept at a house in Meerut in Uttar Pradesh. The cops successfully rescued him and arrested the accused.
So, what makes the jewellers sitting ducks for robbers? The answer lies in the fact that the robbers while risking their lives prefer going for jewellery as it is easy to carry and sell later. It is a substitute for currency and could be transported easily in comparison to other valuables.
Despite assurances from authorities, many jewellers feel that not enough has been done to safeguard their interests.
“Jewellers should be given preference in allotment of arms licence as not just Delhi-NCR, the jewellers are facing the brunt of robbers all over the country. The Covid situation has made things worse as it’s difficult to recognise a person wearing a mask. Also, extra police deployment should be made in the jewellery market to deter the criminals and special emphasis should be put on installation of CCTV cameras,” said Yogesh Singhal, President, Bullion and Jewellers Association, Kucha Mahajani, Chandni Chowk.
Meanwhile, the Delhi Police said regular meetings with the jewellers are frequently done so that they are aware of possible tactics and modus operandi of the criminals.
“We make sure the jewellery shops are covered by high quality CCTV cameras at strategic locations. This requires frequent checks as many times the vision of the camera is blocked either by growing branches of trees or wires. The beat staff is also directed to visit the shops frequently. Frequent meetings are called with jewellers to apprise them of tricks and tactics used by the criminals.” said a senior police officer.
(Zafar Abbas can be reached at [email protected])