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Chain-snatching: A manifestation of violence against women

Streets Turn Unsafe

Maltitai checked herself in the mirror. The gold of the long laxmihaar and that of the choker made of coins shone as brilliantly today as they did on the day she received them from her mother in law, thirty years ago. Her mangalsutra with its black beads linked to textured balls of gold held pride of place in the golden trio, it being the symbol of marriage. The green sari with its golden border accentuated her complexion and added to the elegance the stray white hairs in her head gave her. She felt she looked suitably impressive as the groom’s aunt.

Picking up her 9mo grand-daughter, she called out to her daughter-in-law to hurry up or they would get late for the marriage ceremony. It was a semi-busy lane and the ladies were familiar with the area, having lived there for many years.

Maltitai waited at one end as her daughter-in-law made her way to the other end of the lane where the cabs generally queued up.

And then all at once she saw a bike come close to her. At the same time she felt a harsh tug at her throat followed by burning pain. She felt herself being dragged forward but she held on to her grand-daughter. Only when the duo on the bike had roared away did she realize that her gold chains had been snatched away.

By the time her daughter-in-law reached there with the cab, the painful, bloody lacerations at Maltitai’s throat required them to rush to the hospital rather than to the wedding. It was evening when they were able to go to the police station to lodge the complaint.

They are keeping their fingers crossed for recovering the stolen jewellery.

Yet Another Incident

In another incident that took place one late afternoon, in a quiet suburban lane, Yvonne D’Cunha was deep in thought, as she walked towards the market. She too was taken unawares when the gold chain was snatched from her throat leaving behind a burning laceration and a shell-shocked, traumatized woman. Here, too, the perpetrators were two young men on a bike.

Violence Against Women

In a safety audit I participated in two months ago, one of the findings was that elder women often face violence on the streets in the form of their chains and necklaces being stolen. Chain- snatching is on the rise and needs to be controlled to prevent any further impingement on women’s safety in public spaces.

The MO of Chain-Snatchers

A conversation with a senior Inspector of Police revealed the modus operandi of bike-riding chain-snatchers. They cruise deserted and semi-deserted roads for potential victims. When they have identified one, they traverse the road to and fro, once, to set their path of escape and then they strike. So, one must remain alert on quiet roads and try to vary one’s timings and paths to avoid setting an easily observed pattern that could alert such criminals.

In Case Of Chain-Snatching

  • If you are witness to a chain-snatching, you must alert the Police Control
    Room (or dial 100, you can remain anonymous) immediately and inform
    them of the episode and give as many details as possible about the crime
    and the location so that the perpetrators can be nabbed.
  • Police patrolling can be requested for those areas that are particularly prone
    to such incidents.
  • Nowadays many societies have opted for CCTvs in their lanes and this has
    served as a huge deterrent.

Role Of The Police

Besides the awareness of the citizens, the role played by the police is a huge factor in preventing any crime. The police needs to take cognizance of the crime and pursue the culprits till they are booked and the loot retrieved from them. Once the criminals realize the serious intents of the police, hopefully there would be a serious drop in the rate of such crimes against women.


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13 thoughts on “Chain-snatching: A manifestation of violence against women

  1. Crime is on the increase – esp. against people whom the criminal thinks to be vulnerable. Needful post

  2. Very informative post, Sonia. Streets are seriously no longer safe but disasters can be prevented if we know the right thing to do to avoid them.

  3. Ashwini on said:

    Creating Awareness Sonia :-). Interesting read.

  4. A very well written and timely article. And good suggestions about what should be done. Maybe you should add that people nearby should team up immediately and catch them. If we dare, we can do it.
    Years back, my wife lost her mangalsutra when she was returning from a shop, carrying our son on her hip. She fought him very boldly and pleaded to some youngsters who had parked their motorbikes and were chatting and laughing. Though they stopped their laughter, no one came to her rescue. The snatcher ran to a nearby bus stand and jumped into a running bus. No one chased him though the boys had bikes. The youth have become cowards. We finally traced it back to a jeweler. There’s a big racket out there, Sonia.

    • Yes, I absolutely agree, Sir. Cops posted in our lane have remained immobile and looked away when a chain-snatching happened just a few metres away (they were taken to task about it, though) and about Public Apathy. The less said the better. But if it continues, positive change can never happen in our society.

  5. Reminded me of a chain snatching incident where the thief went to the extent of tearing up the woman’s blouse just because she held onto her jewelry with both her hands! He wanted to divert her attention i guess. The poor lady was so traumatized, it took her some months to get back to her daily walk.

    • The most common advice given to prevent such situations is “dont wear (so much) jewellery.” Why should she not wear? Why should our streets, instead, not become safer. I can imagine how traumatized that woman must have been. Thanks for sharing this story, Manogna.

  6. Informative! Happened once right before my eyes in a deserted road at Indirapuram, Gaziabad. The lady’s hands were full with some vegetables I think and the scream she let out was chilling to the core. Some roads near our house in Delhi were famous for chain snatching. Though I wore no chains, I hung my handbag at the side opposite to the traffic and took care to walk on the side facing incoming traffic so that I could keep my distance from any suspicious motorbike (motorbikes have contributed immensely to this menace). Now I’ve relocated to B’lore. So far haven’t heard of chain snatching incidents here.

    • Adverse economic conditions are often responsible for rise in such crimes. One definitely needs to be more alert on a personal level too. Thanks, too, for sharing your story, Lata.

  7. sreejaharikrishnan on said:

    yes ..something that really needs attention …this happens almost everywhere in India……many people I know too have such experiences…being alert is the first thing we can do from our side….

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