It was a smile that 31-year-old N H Gowda does not want to remember, but cannot forget in a hurry.
The businessman was on his way to Indiranagar 12th Main after dropping some friends off at JB Nagar and Domlur. A woman smiled at him when his car had stopped at a traffic signal. She soon started making obscene gestures at him. Even while he tried to make some sense of what was happening, another woman got into the car, as the signal cleared.
Gowda asked the woman to get out of the car, but she hugged him and asked him for a kiss. She asked him to drive to a dark area. Unfazed, Gowda asked her to get down or be ready to face the police. She got down at Vth Main. Gowda thought this was the end of it, but only when he reached home, and started telling his wife about this incident, did he find out that he had not come out unscathed from the experience.
His 50-gm gold chain was missing.
Gowda’s is not a single incident. Of late, police have registered many such cases involving a gang of women, according to a report by the Bangalore Mirror
The gang is said to be on the prowl in Indiranagar, J B Nagar, Ulsoor and other areas. According to police, their targets are lone men travelling in cars or lone elderly men on their morning or evening walks. And their modus operandi is simple: Accost the target, threaten him with making a case of molestation and extort money from him. Fearing the hassles with such a case, their victims become easy prey.
The East division police have laid a (wo)manhunt for these gangs. Cases of cheating under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code have been lodged in the case of Gowda and a retired Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) official.
All the incidents occurred over the last fortnight.
“I was returning home after attending a relatives’s wedding in Hoskote. It was around 12.20 am. The entire episode happened in two to three minutes,” Gowda told BM.
After discovering his loss, Gowda and his brother came to the junction hoping to nab the accused. But the woman was nowhere to be seen.
“I filed a complaint with the Indiranagar police station. When the incident happened, a number of vehicles were on the road as there are many pubs, bar and restaurants and hotels nearby.
We even checked the footage of a few CCTVs at some pubs, but could not track her down,” Gowda added.
When Gowda talked about the incident to alert his friends about the issue, he came to know his friend had a similar experience too. A woman got into the latter’s car near Ulsoor and removed her T-shirt. She then threatened to scream if he did not pay her. When the man brought his wallet out to get money, the woman snatched it and his mobile phone and made a run for it.
Retired DRDO staffer Thomas KS , a resident of Murugeshpalya, was trapped by a woman while he was on his morning walk at Visvesvaraya Park in New Thippasandra. The 61-year-old would come to the park regularly after dropping his grandson to a montessori.
“I am pretty sure the woman had observed me for quite some time,” Thomas said.
He recalled the woman had a helmet on when she came and stood in front on him. “Identify me”, she said to Thomas. “Suspecting that it was somebody I know, I asked her to remove her helmet. All of a sudden she started yelling and asking me why I was staring at her.
“She threatened that she would make an issue out of it unless I gave her the money and gold I had with me,” Thomas told BM.
Thomas claimed he gave her Rs 3,000 in cash and a gold ring. He said he could not get help as nobody else was in the park. He has filed a complaint with the JB Nagar police.
“We have received a few complaints of men falling victims to such gangs. The victims are targeted at night. We suspect there could more such cases than the complaints as the victims may have refrained from complaining due to social stigma,” an officer who is part of the probe said.
“We are keeping a close watch on women found moving suspiciously at night. Women police personnel have been instructed to keep an eye out for them,” the officer said.