Back to back incidents of firing and kidnapping have put a question mark on the working of the police in the district where the crime rate is steeply rising. The business community is particularly terror-stricken as both the incidents involved two among them.
Patiala was considered a relatively safer city compared to other parts of Punjab. Of late, however, there has been a surge in crime — incidents of loot, snatchings, car thefts, firing and kidnapping have gripped residents by shock and fear.
On April 30, gunmen attacked Om Jewellers, a leading jewellery shop situated around 50m from the Kotwali police station, firing with the intention of loot. Shop owner Rajesh Kumar was hit in the stomach. But he fired back and killed one of the assailants, identified as a Delhi resident.
The police have yet to solve the case, as it gropes in the dark about the dead attacker’s colleagues.
A fresh incident of kidnapping on Wednesday further dented the city police’s image. Shanvi Gupta, the 7-year-old daughter of a leading businessman Amit Gupta, was kidnapped at Bahera Road from an auto while going to school. Sources said Gupta paid the kidnappers `50 lakh as ransom to free his daughter.
Sources said although policemen in civvies were deployed at places in the district, the kidnappers remained elusive by changing their location and also managed to flee with the ransom. The police, however, deny the ransom was paid.
“We don’t feel safe anymore,” Rajesh Bansal, a businessman of Gur Mandi, said. “The firing at Om Jewellers and then the kidnapping… both were daring acts. There is a need to increase security to instill a sense of security among the business community.”
Both the incidents took place in the inner city, congested and ‘safe’. Apart from these, there were several cases of loot, one at an ATM in Patiala and another at the Shutrana Grain market. Nobody was arrested.
Congress MLA Brahm Mohindra said: “People are in a shock. The incidents has again reminded us of militancy days, when people were feeling unsafe and insecure. It will badly affect the city’s economy as the businessman is feeling insecure.”
“Patiala was considered a safe city. If it is witnessing such crimes, you can imagine the situation in other parts of the state. Several gunmen were given to small-time Akali leaders, but the common man was left at the mercy of criminals.”