Story of a cattle lifter
Posted March 8, 2017on:
A man in my village in Punjab was a member of a cattle lifters’ gang which had its operations in the nearby villages. For a while, he was also involved with an inter-state gang of girl abductors and had narrowly escaped from the police dragnet. Some people in the village did have suspicions about him but no one cared much because he did not follow his criminal intents in the village.
He brewed (illegally) his own liquor from the acacia bark which occasionally landed him in police custody. He would drink heavily in the evening. Though ever ready to pick up quarrels with any one on the most insignificant issues, he would seal his lips once he started drinking at his house in the evening. That went in his favour.
Under some peculiar circumstances, I became his confidant in his later years. Whenever I visited the village during vacations, he would sometimes come to me and tell me about his exploits — both successes and failures. One incident, which he narrated to me, would explain his modus operandi.
One day, he said, he and his colleagues in the gang had stolen a camel from a particular village and hid the animal in another village till the dust had settled down. The owner of the camel lodged an FIR at the police station and gave his name as the suspect. The Thanedar sent for him. As the Thanedar had recently come on transfer, he had not yet made his acquaintance with him. As soon as he reached the police station, he touched the feet of the Thanedar and pressed one foot with two fingers. The Thanedar asked him some peremptory questions and let him off with the loud observation that he was not the thief. Once the heat had died down, they sold the camel for Rs 700 and he promptly went to the police station and gave Rs 200 to the Thanedar. (Rs 200 was a princely sum in the 1950s).
The girl abductors gang, with which he was involved for some time, once picked up a girl of Class Eighth from Kanpur. She, along with four or five other girls, was kept in a ‘safe house’ in a village, not far from my village. The girl somehow managed to send a post card to ‘Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, New Delhi’ in which she gave the information about their incarceration. Nehru sent the post card to Punjab Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairon who constituted a team of policemen and instructed the team to quietly raid the house without informing the local police.
The man from my village was sent on some errand by other gang members and he had left the ‘safe house’ only minutes before the police team from Chandigarh raided it. ‘I thanked my stars and decided to keep away from big crimes and stick only to local cattle lifting affair’, he said.