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November 29, 2001
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Bangalore cops blame Dandupalya gang for spate of crimes

M D Riti in Bangalore

Almost 20 members of the dreaded Dandupalya gang, who had been terrorising the residents of Bangalore, are behind bars.

But, by some estimates of the Bangalore police, another 80 members of the gang could still be at large, and out on a killing and looting spree.

Several crimes committed on the outskirts of this rapidly growing city have created a fear psychosis in the minds of the residents.

Newly appointed Police Commissioner H T Sangliana had described the modus operandi of the gang as breaking into lonely houses, robbing it, and often raping the women before strangling them.

"They are quite violent," he had said.

Police officers said the Dandupalya gang is similar to the notorious gangs of Stuartpuram in Andhra Pradesh that kill people for gain and commit robberies.

Dandupalya is a tiny village about 25 kilometres out of Bangalore, near Hoskote town.

Its residents, who have now rapidly dwindled in number, after facing social ostracism and police wrath, now want to change its name.

The dacoit gang -- which has earned the village notoriety - was originally called the woddar or the stonecutter gang.

Local villagers said the gang members are originally from Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, while the police add that they are second generation descendants of men, who themselves had criminal records in Chittoor.

Village elder Narayanappa lamented, "Nobody wants to get their daughters married to our sons. Nobody wants to give us jobs. They look at us all as a bunch of dacoits. Actually, we are all peace-loving citizens."

Other villagers, who did not wish to be named, said whenever there were major robberies committed, the police would round all of them up, and harass them.

But are the spate of crimes that rocked Bangalore recently all really committed by members of the Dandupalya gang still at large?

"Some could be," said a senior police officer, who did not wish to be named.

"Others could be copy cat crimes adopting the procedure used by this gang, so that they could be passed off as Dandupalya crimes. Some are blatantly not," he added.

One of the murders that attracted a lot of attention in Bangalore over the past fortnight was the cold-blooded killing of Jawar and Anu Panchgatti, a young couple who had recently adopted twins from a local orphanage.

The two were murdered in their own home, in what looked like a crime for gain. Now, questions are being raised about other possible motives and reasons. The young couple belonged to wealthy influential families and had married against their families' wishes.

The twins are back in an orphanage in Tamil Nadu, with many couples in line waiting to adopt them.

Police are now warning Bangalore householders to lock their doors and windows even when they are at home, to never leave children without adults watching over them to play, register all domestic help with local police stations and form neighbourhood patrols in far flung localities.

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