Thursday, January 18, 2018
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The other day, while I was returning home after my early-morning walk I noticed from a distance that a garage owner or his men were badly thrashing a ‘kabari’ right and left on Lohia Marg. This kabari, I am told could be seen daily moving in this area on his cycle-thela.

What I could gather from a passerby was that he was probably caught stealing something. This could be a case wherein a thief was caught. But have the police ever cared to wonder why some of these ‘kabaris’ are on the road even before the strike of dawn? Who will sell them disposable goods at that hour? But never have we seen a police man accosting these roving ‘kabaris’. It is only when the public catch them red handed that we learn of their crooked designs. It pains me to recall that some years ago I even saw a newspaper van stop close to a Kabari early in the morning. I found that the jeep driver was dumping bundles of newspapers on his thela. Obviously someone from some press had stolen the bundles of old newspapers meant for disposal.

The conclusion that one can draw from this is that ‘Kabaris’ are not as innocent as they appear to be. Not some of them at least.  And this is known only when one of them is caught indulging in underhand dealings. I recall an old case. One such ‘kabari’ was nabbed by police in Allahabad in February 2006 when, on interrogating a scooter thief, it learnt that he used to sell the stolen vehicles to this particular ‘Kabari’. Incidentally the Kabari confessed to his crime but the explanation he gave sounded rather fishy to me. He revealed that he used to pay just Rs.800  for the stolen vehicle and then would cut the two-wheeler into parts and sell them. In other words what he was trying to say is that he was selling the vehicles by weight and not by value commanded by different parts. He  probably cooked up this story to show that he did not make money out of it and that he was only selling the goods like any junk.

scooter blue

But it is impossible to believe that a running scooter can be regarded as junk. Some of the Kabaris have  paid more money for taking domestic goods like old sofas and chairs, trunks and almirahs. A ‘Kabari’ will be a fool to slice and sell a scooter and buy cheaper goods at a costlier price. This is what I wrote then: ‘There is something very fishy. If he says that he has cut the vehicles then it means there is no scope for the hunting and recovery of the stolen vehicles. That saves the police from the investigative botheration and , at the same time, gives them a share of the booty too if they are a part of the nexus operating the racket’.

I don’t know what finally happened in that case. But this is what I wrote:’As far as I see it, the ‘Kabari’ must be having an understanding with the vehicle thief that he would pay the desperado Rs.800 initially and thereafter he would share the percentage of the profits earned. It might not have been easy for him to sell the vehicle as a whole. So in some cases he might have dismantled the vehicles and sold the parts in the highly expanding market of auto goods. He must be knowing the current rates of the spare parts . He must be selling them at rates cheaper than the market rate.  Selling the parts separately would hardly entail any risk.  The frame of the scooter he might have cut into pieces and sold it by weight though even that he must have done carefully. getting maximum from the needy auto-part sellers and mechanics who are at times in too great a hurry to verify whether the parts are from a stolen vehicle or from a genuinely disposed of one.’

But this is only one aspect of the matter. Let us look it from another angle. A habitual lifter of vehicles cannot be regarded as such a fool as to be content with just Rs.800. The doubt that then flashed across my mind was: This Kabari business is a cover-up. It is possible that once in a blue moon such a transaction might have taken place. But  normally what the scooter thieves must be doing is to sell the stolen vehicles in another city by changing the numbers. As far as faking papers and documents is concerned, nothing is easier these days than this because of the availability of computer experts. When currency notes can be faked so minutely that even an expert may be cheated, the vehicle registration papers and other related documents can easily be duplicated by an expert computer abuser. A habitual scooter thief can hardly have any incentive to take such a risk for just Rs.800 when he knows that he can get nearly Rs.15,000 to Rs.20,000 easily for the costly branded vehicles. A stray thief may sell the stolen vehicle at distress price of Rs.800. It may not be wrong to assume that the Kabari could be a small cog in the wheel. The culprits, rather the kingpins, must be some big operators. It is they who might be asking the cops to look the other way when Kabaris are moving about suspiciously because they are hirelings of the mafia gangs!

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