More Sher­lock than Key­stone Kops

The Economic Times - - Breaking Ideas -

The ex­pe­di­tious re­cov­ery of a cer­e­mo­nial dag­ger stolen from the Nehru Memo­rial Mu­seum shows that the Delhi Po­lice is more Sher­lock Holmes than the Key­stone Kops. That too, the old Holmes, not the Cum­ber­batch avatar who has the ben­e­fit of tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances. Af­ter all, even in 21st-cen­tury In­dia, it sim­ply doesn’t do to de­pend on CCTV cam­eras or DNA sam­ples. Good-old-fash­ioned sleuthing has to carry the day, or call it quits. In this in­stance, the de­duc­tion that the pil­ferer was a south­paw be­cause a glass pane to the left of the door was bro­ken was surely noth­ing short of epiphanic. Luck­ily, the thieves — two staff mem­bers — were not clever enough to counter-in­tu­itively plan to break a pane on the other side just to throw the po­lice off-track. Ze­ro­ing in on the one par­tic­u­lar staffer who ac­tu­ally pur­loined the dag­ger by de­ter­min­ing he was am­bidex­trous — by get­ting him to catch a ball and write with both hands — was in­spired sleuthing.

If th­ese de­tec­tives got to the bot­tom of this rob­bery so promptly, why do so many high-pro­file crimes lan­guish for years? Ob­vi­ously, the bril­liant crime fight­ers who solved the Case of the Miss­ing Dag­ger in no time flat need to be kept at hand so that they can be pressed into ser­vice to crack cases that seem­ingly con­found their uni­formed brethren else­where quite reg­u­larly.

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