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100 burglaries later, crime queen runs out of luck
Vijay Singh in Mumbai | October 30, 2004 21:51 IST
Don't be fooled by her innocent looks. Razia Sultan Saifi, 44, would pass off for just another Mumbai housewife, if she were not behind bars at the suburban Andheri police station.
The police say she is the head of an organised housebreaking gang that has broken into more than 100 homes in almost very corner of the sprawling metropolis.
Hers was an organised housebreaking empire with a vast network and well established modus operandi, that helped her to stay out of the reach of the law for nearly a decade, police say.
What surprised the police was Razia's modus operandi. A network of informants would brief Razia about potential homes that could be broken into. Also she did not have any permanent gang members. She would go to states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to hire petty criminals to do her jobs. Once a job was done, the men would be sent back to their native places. She would rotate teams every three to four months.
Once a home was identified she would personally check it out. Always well dressed, wearing expensive jewellery and driving around in car, she could pass off as an affluent lady. She would go into homes and ring the bell again and again to check if anyone was at home and also reactions of neighbors.
Once a target flat was identified, she would take the team and show them the flat. They would go in, while she waited outside.
Once a job was done, she would take custody of the stolen material and give a small share to members of the team.
If the men refused to share the booty they were threatened. She claimed to have contacts in the police and warn them that she would have them arrested or even killed in a police encounter.
She used all tactics to ensure that her men were under her control. Other than rotating teams constantly, she also used men who were unfamiliar with the city. This ensured that even if they were arrested they would not lead police back to her or identify the homes broken into.
Also surprisingly, she carried out most of her jobs in broad daylight.
"Nearly 80 percent of her jobs are done in the day. She did very few jobs at night," says Police Sub-Inspector Dhananjay Daund of the Andheri police station.
Razia's real name is Kanta Tulsi Arora. She was married to a Hindu in New Delhi, but ran away to Mumbai with her boyfriend Sultan Saifi nearly 15 years ago. They got into crime, with Sultan getting into housebreaking, while she become a chain snatcher.
The first case registered against her was a chain snatching incident by the suburban Borivali railway police in 1990.
She took to her husband's profession after his arrest in 18 house breaking cases in 2000. However, he was out on bail after a few months.
Since the husband had been identified by the police, he moved into the background and Razia began controlling the business. Police feel that Sultan and her only son Akbar, 22, played a support role.
The Mumbai police got a first sniff when one of her gang members was arrested in February by the Tardeo police in central Mumbai. It was the first time the police heard about Razia but it would take months of tracking and detection work before she could be brought to book.
She was arrested by Assistant Police Inspector Dinesh Kadam on September 28, as she was on here way to a railway station to drop men from her gang who were leaving for New Delhi.
Police recovered 34 wrist watches, five cameras, cash and housebreaking tools from her Maruti car. A month later the police arrested her son Akbar and recovered gold worth Rs 75,000 from him.
But even behind bars, Razia refuses to relent or buckle under police pressure.
"She refuses to identify homes her gang have broken into and name the shops were she sold stolen material. She challenges us to do what ever we want. She also threatened to molestation charges if we use force," PSI Daund says.
Police say it is important to recover the stolen material for them to get a conviction in court.
Police suspect that she is involved in criminal activity in some other states too. Her husband Sultan, who is wanted by the police, is absconding.
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