Sunday, February 25, 2018
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4 am clock

It is amazing that no one has ever questioned these ‘kabaris’ when they are out on the roads at 4am on a wintery morn and keep on shouting, ‘Scrap dealer—if you have old batteries, old newspapers sell them to us’. One can notice that while an adult keeps on paddling, a small lad or two give him company.

It is apparently through the lads too that these people pilfer things before dawn. Their long sacks are a big deception. In the years gone by, when bungalows still dotted the Civil Lines area, these rag-pickers(in reality experts at lock breaking) would aim at opening the water pumps of coolers. These used to be set up in the verendahs. But sometimes even portable power generators, kept in verendahs covered with iron grill , were also targeted. I remember the late P.D.Tandon, living on Elgin Road, lost his power generator that way. Likewise advocate Afzal Ahamad had  chained his water pump in the verendah but some one entered the compound at night and used the iron saw to make breach in the grill.
These rag pickers have often not been taken seriously. But this time, because  one of them tried to  pilfer things from a police camp, the cops were hard on him. In other cases, when someone else catches them and wishes to hand them over to the cops, the latter  take the plea that he is of an unstable mind and ask the aggrieved party to let him go. How, in an instant, they can guess that the crook is of an unstable mind is of course a mystery. But I was told by an insider that once they get the man ‘with an unstable mind’ freed they fleece him right and left, threatening to put him behind bars if he does not cough out substantial amount of money to buy his freedom. These rag-pickers are not as innocent as they look. One would expect the police authorities to be strict with them and also ensure that they are not seen on the streets before sunrise.

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