Illustration: P.K. Job
Chennai: Chennai may not have gang wars involving violent youngsters like some other cities of the world — a subject the Brazilian movie City of God deals with — but the recent arrest of a five-member teen gang in St Thomas Mount has forced the police to take a serious look at the growing trend of youngsters being drawn into anti-social groups.
Law enforcers admit that a significant presence of teenaged boys in gangs prowling the city has them worried. "Crime lords find it easy to lure teenagers with the offer of money, food and liquor. Most of the dreaded gang leaders, who have been killed or are in jail, joined their bosses when they were merely 15 or 16 years old. Once they become a part of the gangs, they are eager to show their loyalty and do whatever their leader asks," says an officer who has been on the trail of several of these gangs in the city of late.
One teenaged member of a gang hired to eliminate a real estate broker in Thiruve rkadu a year and a half ago by his rival, when questioned by the police confessed, "I too hit him on his head. But I didn’t know who he was."
His admission reflected the story of many a youngster lured into crime in the city. The gang he had joined had mistaken the driver of the realtor to be its target and chased and hacked him to death. The boy, who was doing a vocational course, was offered a bike to join it.
While this gang was into more serious crime, the police has found that the teen gang nabbed redhanded near St Thomas Mount recently was mainly into extortion and roadside waylaying to fund its need for ganja and alcohol.
"But there is every possibility of its members graduating into full-fledged gangsters ," says the officer, blaming family backgrounds, the social stratas these boys belong to, parenting, and proximity to active criminal gangs for pushing them into a life of crime.
While they may step into the criminal world quite innocently , lured by the prospect of making some easy money, they soon discover that ‘once you are in, you are in forever.’ Its a hard lesson for the teenagers to learn, but escape they cannot, adds the officer.