Recipe for disaster: Dangers of the dark hours on Chandigarh’s roads

  • Nikhil Sharma, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Jul 15, 2016 12:39 IST

The roads are wide and there is hardly any traffic. Cops are missing in action or watching the night go by, and traffic lights are either on blink mode or simply ignored. Here’s a perfect chance to drive how you want, and also the perfect recipe for disaster, whether you are trying your luck with speed or someone else is.

In the wake of the accident on Sunday night that claimed the lives of three women and resulted in injuries to three men, all young IT professionals, after their Ford Figo rammed into a tree on the Sector 44-45 road, this correspondent and a photojournalist drove around the city for a reality check on a Tuesday night.

It was 11 pm, and we started from Sector 17. At the first turn out of the market parking, we had to press on the brakes quickly as two helmetless motorcyclists sang and screamed by. At the main traffic lights of Press Chowk on the Sector 8-9-16-17, a police control room (PCR) van was parked on a side, and cops were seated inside. Here, the signal worked and the traffic was disciplined.

Taking a right onto Madhya Marg, we drove to Sector 26, where the six IT professionals had partied before the Sunday night accident. There was not a cop in sight. As we drove towards the grain market, we only had the headlights to show us around 120 metres ahead; there was no streetlight functioning. Cars and bikes sped by.

A car jumping the red light, while at the same time, a differently abled man also crossing the road, at Modern Complex, Manimajra light point. (Sanjeev Sharma/HT Photo)

At the Transport Chowk signal, the red lights managed to halt some of the traffic. At the railway station turn on the road to Panchkula, around 11.30 pm a cop was sitting on a chair outside a beat box. But that did not stop anyone from ignoring the traffic signal.

The drunkard show

The stretch ahead right up to Fun republic mall had no road discipline, but the real show awaited us when we turned around and reached the Transport Chowk next to Sector 26 again. It was 10 minutes to midnight, and a visibly drunken man was hurling bricks at the cops. Head constable Prem Chand suffered a minor head injury and a torn uniform. A PCR van reached the scene in 15 minutes as after passersby had managed some peace. A witness said, “If cops are not safe at night, how will they protect us?”

Cops lifting a drunken man. (Sanjeev Sharma/HT Photo)

Driving on, we reached Panjab University around 12.15 am, and did not encounter a single cop on the road. At the Night Food Street (NFS) next to PU, we saw around 40 men and women dining. Smoking went unchecked at the public place even when cops were present.

The road ahead to Khuda Lahora was dark with the forest on both sides adding to the effect of non-functional streetlights. The trees awaited pruning. Until after half past midnight, no cops were seen deputed or patrolling here.

Non-functional streetlights near Transport light point, Sector 26, in Chandigarh. (Sanjeev Sharma/HT Photo)

As we drove across to the southern parts, the road from PU to Sector 40 had no cops. At Attawa Chowk (Sector 42), a group of five youngsters teased us with their speed and loud Punjabi music in their jeep.

Close to 1am, we reached the Sunday-night accident point. Here, the streetlights were functional, and three cops were deputed at the Sector 44-45 crossing.

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