CCTV cameras will soon keep a close watch on the activities of anti-social elements in hyper-sensitive Malerkotla town in Punjab.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Malerkotla deputy superintendent of police William Jeji said, "We have identified 27 sensitive locations of the town, where CCTV cameras, with zooming features, will be installed to keep a close watch on every activity of the people", he added.
He said that deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has approved an allocation of `60 lakh for the project, under which 27 CCTV cameras will be installed and a control room set up at the police station. A police team will also be deputed for rapid response.
After the approval from the deputy CM, the local police are expecting that CCTV cameras will be installed before the announcement of Lok Sabha polls.
Having a population of 1.35 lakh, including about 91,000 Muslims, Malerkotla has witnessed communal riots several times in the past.
"Since my posting in Malerkotla, I have witnessed several communal riots here. The fact that the people of almost all religions live in Malerkotla, which touches the boundary of four districts, makes it more sensitive"
"Though the incidents of killing are very rare in the city, rioters often cause huge damage to the public property, which affects the normalcy in Malerkotla and neighbouring areas", he added.
He said that the police have taken several measures to deal with the situation but violent incidents, especially communal riots, are on the rise in the town. Three major incidents took place in the city last year, keeping the police on the toes.
Stray cows main reason for communal riots
According to a senior police officer, most of the incidents communal violence and riots took place in the wake of death of cows in the city. Sometimes, certain mischievous elements also hurt cows to spread provoke violence. "The number of stray cows is increasing day by day and we have repeatedly requested to the authorities concerned for providing us with cow catchers but in vain. This is a very serious issue.
Sometimes, we apprehend riots even if a cow gets hurt in a road accident", he added.
Major incidents since 2010
In 2010, Malerkotla witnessed week-long riots after a church in the town was burnt in protest against a US pastor's threat to burn a copy of Holy Quran to mark the anniversary of the 9/11 terror strike.
In 2011, day-long protests were held and public property was damaged after the death of a cow in the town.
In 2012, the city witnessed protests after repeated scuffles between contractors and labourers.
In July, 2013, communal riots erupted in Malerkotla after a cow was killed by miscreants by throwing acid on
In September, 2013 again, the brutal killing of Vidhu Jain (12), who was burnt alive in broad daylight, sparked communal tension in the town. The police had to face people's fury as it failed to arrest the culprits. Now, the case has been handed over to CBI.
This year too, tension prevailed in the town again last month, when people came on the roads to protest against the death of an undertrial at a hospital in Patiala where he was taken for treatment from the jail.