As Bengaluru residents claim extortion threats at night, cops brush them aside as road-rage incidents

Meanwhile, some people told South First on condition of anonymity that many such encounters were going unreported.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Mar 06, 2023 | 12:32 PM Updated Mar 06, 2023 | 12:50 PM

CCTV footage where Kirthan's car is being tried to be waylaid by the scooter

It was a harrowing three-km drive through the narrow roads of Anugraha Layout in Southeast Bengaluru’s Bilekahalli for software engineer and Hulimavu resident Kirthan and his mother around 12.30 am on Friday,  3 March.

The ride left both Kirthan and his mother shaken. A scooter overtook their car, and then did not allow them to pass, he told South First.

“The men on the scooter tried to waylay us at least three to four times. They wanted us to stop and get out of the vehicle,” he said.

Kirthan and his mother’s experience was not an isolated one. There were two such instances earlier that even sparked a public outcry.

The Bengaluru Police are not seeing them as deliberate attempts to waylay four-wheelers by faking accidents: They are viewing them as instances of road rage.

The victims, however,  felt that the menace is on an uptick, and several such incidents have gone unreported.

They said bike-borne miscreants are faking accidents, especially at night, to extort some quick money from car passengers.

Miscreants attack car

Kirthan and his mother, a government official, had gone to a friend’s place for dinner on Thursday night and were returning home in Hulimavu on Bannerghatta Road when two men fell from their scooter near their car close to the Someshwar Temple in Anugraha Layout.

Damaged car of Kirthan

Kirthan’s damaged car. (Supplied)

Kirthan swore that his car had not even touched the men or their scooter.

When Kirthan continued driving his car, three other men on two scooters and a car started to tail him.

A man on one of the scooters overtook Kirthan’s car and waylaid it. He started abusing Kirthan for brushing against the scooter and demanded that he stepped out of the vehicle.

However, Kirthan chose to remain locked inside the car after his mother started panicking and asked him to call the police.

Soon, the men became aggressive and started hitting the car’s windshield and windows. They even kicked the back bumper.

A few delivery executives witnessed the incident, but they did not help the mother-son duo.

Also read: 2 Bengaluru cops suspended for planting ‘marijuana’ twig on youth

2 held after social media outrage

Damaged car of Kirthan

Damaged car of Kirthan

“As I did not have a dashboard camera, I started video-recording the incident on my phone. My mother was a bit shaken and asked me to call the police.,” Kirthan said.

“As the man started beating on my car’s windshield, it cracked and the back bumper was damaged. I was insisting that we head to the police station and sort out the matter there, but they would not listen. I then started driving slowly towards the Hulimavu police station,” he further said.

“By then, the main person, who was in a Honda Access in front of our car, slowed down and tried to waylay our vehicle at least three more times, and demanded that we step out of the vehicle. They also told us that they were on their way to buy alcohol for a birthday party for their friend when our car brushed against their scooter,” he added.

The men followed Kirthan’s car until they neared the Hulimavu police station. “When they realised that we were heading to the police station, they stopped following us and left,” he said.

Kirthan then approached the police and narrated their ordeal. The Hulimavu police advised him to complain with the Mico Layout Police Station limits, since the incident had happened in the latter’s jurisdiction.

On Friday morning, Kirthan took to Twitter to share the video of the incident, along with photographs and screengrabs of the assailants, their scooter, and its registration number.

He tagged the commissioner of police and posted his experience. Personnel from the police commissioner’s office messaged him that he could approach the Southeast division police with a complaint.

Kirthan approached the Mico Layout Police Station on Friday and lodged a complaint, based on which two of the accused were picked up.

The accused were identified as Pawan, a cab driver, and Johnson, who works at a local cybercafe.

Based on Kirthan’s complaint, the police booked the two accused under IPC sections 341 (wrongful confinement), 506 (criminal intimidation), 504 (intentional insult), and 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of ₹50).

The two were subsequently produced before a magistrate and remanded in judicial custody.

Also read: Bengaluru cops suspended for extorting couple walking at night

Suspicious elements, says Kirthan

Damaged car of Kirthan

Damaged car of Kirthan

However, when Kirthan told the cops about the other two-wheeler and a car that had followed them, the police told him that those two vehicles were unrelated to the incident.

“On being interrogated, the two accused stuck to their stand that Kirthan’s car had brushed past their two-wheeler and that the vehicle sped away without stopping,” a senior officer attached to Mico Layout Police Station told South First.

The officer added: “We verified the antecedents of the two accused, and they had no previous criminal cases against them. After verifying thoroughly, we concluded that they were not associated with any robbery or extortionist gang.”

However, Kirthan said that he and his mother were very sure that the other men — who appeared drunk — faked an accident for making some quick bucks.

“I had seen the video footage of a similar incident that happened on Sarjapur Road around a month ago, and that was the reason why I recorded my experience on my phone,” he said.

“I was also aware of the fact that the slates of several rowdy sheeters had been cleaned of late, ahead of upcoming Assembly elections,” he said, adding that he suspected that these men could be among those who were cleared of crime incidents.

It’s road rage, assert police

Deputy Commissioner of Police (South East) Division CK Baba, however, differed as he toed the department’s line.

He told South First: “This was a typical road-rage incident, where the car did not stop after brushing past the scooter. Irked by this, the scooter-riders wanted the car to stop and followed it. However, we have registered a case as no one should take the law into their hands, and have arrested the accused.”

Baba also tweeted with the hashtag #StopRoadRage.

Also read: 3 Karnataka cops busted for bid to ‘extort’ ₹20 lakh

Recurring incidents

Friday’s was not the first time such an incident had happened in Bengaluru.

On 29 January, a video of a head-on collision between a bike and a car, which occurred in Sarjapura around 3 am, went viral on social media as the biker chased the car for about five kilometres.

The car, in which a techie couple was travelling, had a dashcam that recorded the entire sequence of events.

The video footage was posted on social media by Citizens Movement, East Bengaluru — a community social media handle, on 29 January.

The tweet stated: “Horrific incident reported on Sarjapur road near Sofas & More around 3 am today. Miscreant riders collided purposefully with a couple travelling in a car. They chased the car for 5km till their society in Chikkanayakanahalli. Don’t open your car at night. Use a dash cam. [sic]”

The video footage showered the two bike-riders entering into a confrontation with the couple after chasing them.

The couple was heard saying in the video that the bike was on the wrong side of the road when it collided with the car.

The woman was also heard telling her spouse not to get out of the car. She asked him to keep driving.

Even as the car reversed for a long distance, the men on the scooter kept following the vehicle. They subsequently even beat on the car windows, demanding that the couple step out.

The couple lived in a gated community in Chikkanayakanahalli, and was reportedly chased up to there by the bike-borne men, who allegedly wanted to extort money from them.

As the video went viral, the Whitefield division’s Bellandur police reached out to the couple and took a complaint, based on which a case was registered and the two suspects were arrested.

They were identified as Dhanush (24) and Rakshit (20) — both working at a fish stall. They were booked under IPC sections 384 (extortion), 506 (criminal intimidation), and 504 (intentional insult), the police said.

In this case, too, the Bellandur police told South First that the two accused had no previous criminal antecedents, and that they were booked for extortion for the first time.

However, a few youths in and around Koramangala, HSR Layout, and BTM Layout told South First on condition of anonymity that several such incidents — where two-wheelers targeted car travellers at night — had gone unreported.

The miscreants fake an accident and attempt to extort money from the occupants of the car for either repairing their vehicle or hospital treatment of the “injured”.