Habibur Rahman, a student of East West University, along with his three friends got on a bus from Farmgate to go back home at Malibagh.
He found an empty window seat and sat on it right away.
The bus started. Soon afterwards, he received a phone call. It was an old friend. Habibur got lost in conversation. Meanwhile, the bus got stuck in a traffic jam at Karwan Bazar.
Suddenly, someone snatched away his phone through the window. Before he could come to terms with the situation, the snatcher started running. The incident took place on March 16.
Just a month before, on February 15, housewife Jannatul Ferdous was going to Mohakhali from Bailey Road by a CNG-run auto-rickshaw. Her four-year-old daughter was also with her.
“My daughter was playing games on my tablet. As we reached Nabisco crossing in Tejgaon area, a person suddenly snatched away the tab from her.”
“At first, I did not realise what happened or how it happened. Then I noticed a large hole at the back of the vehicle. That person must have cut it open. My daughter was very scared… so was I,” she said.
On February 23, a senior journalist of the news agency also fell victim to mugging at Amin Bazar intersection. He was returning to the capital from Savar in a bus sitting by the window.
Last month, Mohammad Shamsul Islam, a private university teacher who lost his mobile phone to snatchers at Mirpur 1, wrote on his Facebook account that Mirpur now has become a safe haven for phone snatchers.
The abovementioned incidents are only a few to mention.
Many of the victims alleged that various gangs popularly known as “Tana Party” (snatching gang) are on the prowl due to law enforcers' inaction. They also said the mugging incidents have risen sharply in Dhaka and its adjoining areas, creating a sense of insecurity among people.
Meanwhile, police said at least 50 “Tana Parties” are active in at least 135 spots around the city and involved in such “pick and run” incidents.
They said the criminals observe their victims by either following them at different intersections or relatively less-crowded places. They said the muggers usually snatch away mobile phone sets, laptops, other electronic devices, handbags, and ornaments. At times, the snatchers also become violent. At least two people were killed and some others injured in recent months.
On January 26, housewife Helena Begum was run over by a car of snatchers as she fell under its wheels when muggers pulled her bag in Dhanmondi. The same day, muggers also stabbed a youth in Hajaribagh and took away Tk 20,000. An SSC examinee was also stabbed by snatchers on January 31 in Jatrabari.
Al-Amin, an employee of a mobile financial service provider, was stabbed to death by muggers in Uttara on February 1. Another of its employees was also stabbed the same day in Demra. Police have no statistics of how many “pick and run” or mugging incidents occur in the city per day or month as most victims are reluctant to file complaints with police stations to avert possible hassles.
A police official, wishing anonymity, said though a very few inform police, most chose to register a general diary instead of filing cases. Contacted, Krishna Pada Roy, acting additional commissioner (crime) of DMP, said most perpetrators are drug addicts.
He said though they have intensified their vigilance and identified a number of such spots, they still could not combat the mugging and “pick and run” incidents.
Replying to a question, he said police sometimes recover snatched mobile phones and other valuables, but he could not give any statistics.
According to a police official at the police headquarters, Mazar Road crossing of Gabtoli, Ansar camp in Mirpur-1, Mirpur-2, Mirpur Indoor Stadium area, Purabi Post Office Lane in Mirpur-12, Shyamoli Cinema Hall, Dhanmondi-27, Shankar Bus Stand, Dhanmondi, Bangabandhu International Conference Centre area in Agargaon, Bijoy Sharani, Shezan Point at Farmgate, Saarc Fountain near Karwan Bazar and areas adjacent to Shahbagh crossing are among the most mugging-prone areas.