Be on your guard the next time you go for a morning walk at the Dhakuria Lakes. The lure of the lush green and the fresh air could end in a cold nozzle being held against your temple and your valuables being snatched.
As Hrishikesh Nag, in his early 50s, found out on Wednesday morning. The regular morning walker left his Lake Gardens home around 5.15 am for his rounds at Rabindra Sarobar.
At the entrance to the waterbody, a youth ' dark, medium height ' emerged out of nowhere, an improvised firearm in hand. He held the weapon to Nag's temple and snatched his gold chain. Nag cried out for help, but there was no one around. Shocked, he returned home in a hurry.
And Nag is not the only victim. Attacks on morning walkers are rising in the south division, stated police officers. At least 10 such snatchings have taken place in the past couple of weeks at Rabindra Sarobar, Gariahat, New Alipore and Jodhpur Park.
The nature of Wednesday's incident prompted deputy commissioner (south division) N.R. Babu to visit the Lakes early on Thursday. He also met the officers of Lake police station to discuss the security of morning walkers.
'I have directed officers to intensify vigil on the paths frequented by morning walkers,' said Babu.
A preliminary probe by the cops indicated that criminals from South 24-Parganas were behind the snatch-and-run. 'It seems that the robber was from the district. We are in touch with our counterparts in South 24-Parganas,' said Babu.
The morning walker, clearly a soft target, is now having second thoughts before stepping out at the crack of dawn. Take Jodhpur Park resident Mohua Bhattacharya, a morning walker at Rabindra Sarobar for 10 years.
'After Wednesday's robbery, we feel the need to take precautionary measures. Eight of us from the neighbourhood have decided to walk together from now on,' she said.
Dhritiman Ganguly of Lake Gardens added: 'I leave valuables like chain, ring and wristwatch at home before going for my daily walk. For a few thousand rupees, I am not ready to put my life at risk.'
Babu, however, held out an assurance: 'Morning walkers can walk freely.'