A top chain-snatcher’s wedding in Ambivali in Thane district on Sunday was a 1000-guest affair. And the guest list was not an ordinary one; it was a veritable roll-call of India’s top chain-snatchers, seasoned thieves and master muggers.
Twenty policemen kept a close watch on the festivities, but did not intervene as they felt it could have led to a law and-order problem. Thane Police Commissioner Parambir Singh has ordered an inquiry.
According to the police, the groom Toufiq Teji Shah alias Irani, who has over 25 cases of chain-snatching against him, married his aunt’s daughter Sohra Irani. Sohra is only 15, but that was a detail easily ignored at the celebration dominated by outlaws.
Toufiq, 20, was booked under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime (MCOCA) in 2012 when he was first arrested. His arrest had lead to a large recovery of stolen chains and other valuables. After he was released on bail, he went back to chain-snatching and was booked under MCOCA again in 2016. This time, however, he could not be arrested and has been on the run since.
The inquiry will now look into as to why the Thane police let go of a golden opportunity (no pun intended) to arrest Toufiq on Sunday.
Senior Inspector Ravindra Doifode, who heads the anti-chain snatching squad in Thane, said his team had orders only to keep a watch on the gathering. “It was not wise to disrupt the wedding as it could have caused serious law and order situation. We knew the family would use women and children as human shield if we tried to arrest Toufiq,” he said.
The wedding, according to the police, had India’s top chain-snatchers from Delhi, Bhopal, Aurangabad, Karnataka and Mumbai in attendance. Toufiq’s father Tejib Ali Shah is the local headman of the Irani community.
Police Commissioner Parambir Singh confirmed that his men knew about the wedding. “Our teams were deployed there. The inquiry is on and the accused will be nabbed soon,” he said.