Once considered to be one of the safest cities, Chandigarh has now turned into a safe haven for criminals. Despite having a huge police force, the city police has not been able to curb crime in the city.
Residents' Welfare Associations (RWA) have submitted several representations to the UT Police with regard to working towards restoring 'one of safest cities' tag, but nothing has changed.
With Lok Sabha elections around the corner, deteriorating law and order should be among top priorities of the new Member of Parliament from here.
"Law and order situation in Chandigarh is deteriorating. Going out in the evenings is not safe, news about snatchings have become an everyday affair. Administration must do something to gain back confidence of the citizens," said Bhupinder Kaur Sandhu, President of Sector 27 (RWA).
Kamal Sharma, president of Sector 45 RWA, said there was a pressing need of stringent laws to check on migrants.
"In Chandigarh, various RWAs and general public keep sounding alarm bells over the law and order situation in the city. Public, too, is peeved over cases of crimes against women and snatchings. Women are being targeted repeatedly. There is a need for stringent laws and check policy for migrants," Sharma, said.
Col Kulwinder Singh, president of Sector 10 RWA, stated that in order to mend the law and order situation in Chandigarh, police personnel may be withdrawn from VVIP duties.
"To improve law and order, police have to increase patrolling in the sensitive areas and place CCTV cameras at various points and parks. Ensuring exemplary punishment to offenders and conducting seminars in colleges and high schools to educate the youth is very important. If required, withdraw police from VIP duties to improve availability of the police," he said.
Unregulated PG business
Some residents feel that the unregulated PG business is one of the key reasons of rising crime in the city.
In the last few years, Chandigarh has become a growing educational and IT hub. Every year, thousands of youngsters come here for studying or work. With this, the need for budget accommodation has increased manifold over the years. Although Chandigarh has few hostels like Young Women/Men Christian Associations (YWCA/YMCA), along with students' hostels for various colleges and the university, the supply of accommodation is still inadequate to meet their increasing demand. The dearth of hostel accommodations has resulted in the increased unregulated PG business in the city.
Through orders dating back to September 5, 2006, the Chandigarh Administration permitted the use of residential buildings as paying guest accommodation.
"The set norms of any PG are being violated, much to the disadvantage of the residents in the neighbourhood. There are complaints of rowdy environs, parking problems and late night disturbances. One and half year before we even had handed over a drug peddler, who was trying to make inroads to the local police" narrated Kuljinder Singh Sra, general secretary of Sector 33 RWA.
K L Chawla, president of Citizen's Welfare Association of Sector 22, emphasized that "PG owners have started using a new modus operandi of giving their properties on rent on lump sum basis to a new emerging class of PG contractors, who in turn run the PG businesses. Every house owner should inform the police regarding the occupants of the property, whether they are paying guests or tenants. Form for PG/tenant verification can be downloaded from Chandigarh Police website."
"The beat police should conduct door-to-door verification so that the authorities know who all are staying in PG accommodations of that area," stated retired principal, R M Kamal.
Keeping in view the significant rise in snatchings and thefts incidences in the recent past, City Forum of Residents Welfare Organisations (CFORWO) wrote a letter on April 15, to Director General of Police, requesting him to instruct beat police staff to initiate door-to-door verifications, especially of houses, where tenants and paying guests were staying without police verification/intimation.
"Also, we have requested for amendment of PG regulations by incorporating provision of an NOC from the jurisdictional registered RWA before starting a new PG business," Vinod Vashisht, convener of CFORWO, said.
What the figures say ?
41 snatching incidents have been reported in this year so far.
Corruption among police personnel
As many as 9 policemen were booked and arrested in corruption related cases, including SHO of Mauli Jagran, Inspector Baljeet Singh. Three police personnel were booked by Chandigarh Police itself.
Attack on khaki
A total of 166 cases of attack on police personnel in uniform were reported over past five years. 26 cases were reported in this year alone.
Dissatisfaction among police personnel
Long pending promotions of Chandigarh police personnel will definitely become a poll issue. Chandigarh cadre cops are in logger heads with DSP rank police personnel of Delhi cadre as maximum posts of DSP rank were occupied by Delhi Police cadre officers.
Addiction and supply of drugs in Chandigarh is another matter of concern. Though records show a decrease in cases of drug peddling, arrival of high end drugs like cocaine in the city is a big issue. Eight deaths due to drug overdose have been reported in Chandigarh over last five years. Till March 31 of this year, 75 cases of drug peddling have been registered.
Henious crime and availability of weapons
Nine murder incidents have been reported in Chandigarh this year. 19 cases, in which countrymade weapons were used, have been reported, including the case of firing during local MP Kirron Kher's birthday by her close aide, Sahdev Salaria, at F Bar in Sector 26 and murder of former student leader, Vishal Chillar, in Sector 49.
This year, hardly a day has passed, when on an average atleast six cases of burglaries, thefts and vehicle thefts were not reported in the city.