VIJAYAWADA: Ever wondered how many rowdies are on the prowl in the State? Given the frequent burglaries and of late, kidnappings for ransom, in different regions, it might appear as if more number of history-sheeters are popping up creating a headache for law enforcement agencies and insecurity among the people. As per official records, there are 28,381 rowdy-sheeters in the State. The figure might look scary but police officials assure that it isn’t. Given the total population in the State, it isn’t as alarming as it looks.
In Vijayawada, a series of unfortunate incidents in the recent past prompted the city police to wake up and conduct counselling for rowdy-sheeters as is being done in other districts every Sunday. The immediate trigger was the murder of a rickshaw-puller by the notorious Khal Nayak, a 55-year-old history-sheeter who has as many as 17 cases against him. Khal Nayak alias Katta Venugopal was in fact externed following several extortion complaints against him. But he stayed put in the city operating right under the nose of the city police and settle scores with a man with whom he had a long-standing rivalry.
A senior police official, on condition of anonymity, told TNIE that their aim was to not only keep track of the movements of the history-sheeters but also reform them. “We collect all the data pertaining to them such as fingerprints, phone numbers, present and permanent address, etc. We also conduct iris scanning in case of crime suspects,” he explained.
He further said the history-sheets are revised from time to time and names of those aged above 60 or those with chronic ailments could be removed. According to the CM Core Dashboard, Krishna district (including Vijayawada city and GRP Vijayawada) top the charts with 4,235 history-sheeters followed by Guntur district (including urban and rural areas) with 3,954.
The opening of a rowdy-sheet is nothing but maintaining the record of movements of a crime suspect, said Guntur (urban) superintendent of police Ch Vijaya Rao. Asked if there has been a spike in the number of history-sheeters, particularly in the wake of the booming real estate in the last few years, he admitted that real estate and its accompanying crime was a new phenomenon but pointed out that the records of most rowdies were much older.
He clarified, “history-sheeters who have wife and children, have to reform at the earliest as children look upon them as their role models. We alert them to this danger during counselling.” East Godavari district SP Vishal Gunni, whose youtube videos, warning rowdies to fall in line, attracted over 2.5 lakh views, believes that regular counselling can help reform them.
“Police have to clamp down on wrong-doers in public interest. To maintain law and order, we are revising the rowdy-sheeters’ list and intensifying police patrolling in crime-prone areas in the district,” he said. Police will not hesitate to book preventive detention cases against persons who resort to serious crimes, he added. Interestingly, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts have the least number of rowdy-sheeters with 410 and 486 respectively in the State.
Will counselling work? “It probably will. At least in the case of some rowdy-sheeters, it will work because reporting to the police every week isn’t exactly they look forward to,” another senior police official pointed out.
Who is a rowdy-sheeter?
The station house officer at a police station can open a history-sheet against a person who indulges in more than two ‘bodily offenses’ (causing bodily harm) . The officer has discretionary powers to open a history-sheet on repeat offenders. A rowdy-sheeted person has to visit the police station every week to inform his activities to the station house officer. If he is relocating, he should take prior permission from the police.