Fuelled by the hike in LPG prices and the cap on subsidised domestic cylinders, pilfer dens that were hitherto restricted to Jamshedpur’s fringes are now mushrooming in the heart of the city.
The fact came to light following two back-to-back raids in densely populated neighbourhoods of Sonari and Sakchi, which yielded as many as 33 illegal cylinders since Saturday night.
The Sunday morning raid was conducted in the residential pocket of Road No. 3 in Kashidih under Sakchi police station area.
Police raid the pilfering den (top) at Kashidih in Sakchi on Sunday, while a crowd of shocked residents watch. One person was detained. Pictures by Bhola Prasad
The crackdown team, led by Sakchi OC Bijay Kumar and his Sonari counterpart N.K. Ram, seized four standard size domestic cylinders and 12 smaller ones, weighing up to 5kg. Equipment used to pilfer LPG have also been taken into custody.
East Singhbhum senior superintendent of police Akhilesh Kumar Jha said the raid in Sakchi was a follow-up to a similar operation at Gwala Bustee in Sonari on Saturday night, when 17 cylinders were confiscated and two persons arrested.
“A local resident had tipped us on the racket in the Sonari area. The Sakchi raid was based on information gathered during interrogation of two persons who were arrested from the Gwala Bustee pilfer den last night,” Jha said, adding that police were trying to get details of rackets being run elsewhere in the city.
The SSP said the modus operandi of LPG racketeers is quite simple.
They understandably have a nexus with a section of employees of gas agencies. These men help siphon off standard registered cylinders meant for home delivery. The cylinders are brought to the dens, a certain volume of LPG transferred into smaller cylinders, which are then sold in the market.
Jha added that they were now trying to work out the profit math behind these growing rackets.
A senior police officer, on the condition of anonymity, said three more persons had been arrested and they were being grilled for further details.
“Earlier, LPG pilferage was limited to outskirts of the city and places like Chowka and Chandil, but now the racketeers have made inroads into the steel city’s densely populated areas. This is concerning and we need to find the root of the rackets,” he added.
Ramratan Singh, a resident of Kashidih, maintained that the pilfer den in his neighbourhood had been operational for quite sometime.
“Most of us were aware because of the pungent smell of gas, but we honestly didn’t have the courage to report the matter and invite wrath of criminals. The police and administration must ensure that LPG pilferage stops once and for all. There is always the risk of cylinder explosion. We live in fear,” he said.
Have you ever received a pilfered LPG cylinder?