'Sorry for the inconvenience caused'- such boards where a road is being repaired or a flyover is being constructed are common in the holy city.
The Amritsar Commissioner of Police, too, needs to put up similar boards in various parts of the city as the locals or pilgrims/tourists, particularly the women who have their purses, gold chains or earrings snatched, might find some solace from the fact that at least the law-enforcing authorities are being apologetic. That is if they cannot prevent a crime from taking place, at least they have the courtesy to apologise for the crime committed.
If such boards cannot be put up, then the words, 'inconvenience is regretted' can be painted on the police control room vehicles, whose duty is to rush to the nearest crime site on receiving information from the city control room.
Not a day passes when an incident of snatching is not reported. Each day reports pour in of a purse being snatched from a woman going to her workplace on a rickshaw or a woman being deprived of her earrings or chain while walking in a marketplace or of a woman suffering injuries after a fall from her scooter after she had her purse slung over her shoulder being pulled by a snatcher.
At time such incidents have proved lethal as the snatchers are often armed with pistols or revolvers and do not hesitate to use them if anyone resists or tries to chase or intercept them.
In fact a housewife may think that she is safe within the four walls of her home than in the streets or bazaars.
This was exactly what Jasbir Kaur, a resident of Naraingarh area, may have had in her mind when she decided to sit in the verandah of her home due to power failure. A youngster casually strolled into her house and deprived her of her earrings and ran towards his colleague who was stationed on a motorcycle outside the house. However, the gutsy middle-aged woman raised the alarm and got hold of one of the snatchers who, however, along with his colleague eventually made good his escape after shooting at and injuring a shopkeeper of the locality.
Snatching may look an ordinary crime but it has become serious as those indulging in such acts are mostly armed with small firearms. So normally when such a crime occurs, those passing by prefer to go their way than come to the rescue of the victim or chase the offender.
However, there are exceptions and one such rare example of courage was shown by a youth on Wednesday. He chased two snatchers who had deprived a woman of her gold chain in the A-Block of Ranjit Avenue. The gutsy youth on a motorcycle chased the snatchers, raising the alarm and when he got close, a snatcher opened fire from a pistol injuring the youth.
The Gumtala police post is a mere 100 yards from the place where the injured youth lay but no cop came to take him to hospital despite having heard the shot that was fired. It is not possible that the cops at the post, which is on roadside, did not notice the youth speeding past them and raising the alarm.
Each time the cops nab a couple of snatchers, the announcement is made at a press conference by senior officers and some of the recovered items and even firearms are displayed. But have the police officers ever bothered to get to the source of the firearms or find out from where these were procured.
Tourists/pilgrims are targets
If the residents of the holy city are unsafe in the streets and bazaars, then what safety assurances can the police or the state government give to tourists or pilgrims who come to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple. Thousands of tourists/pilgrims visit the city each day and each passing day the state government says that it is improving the infrastructure of the city to bring it on par with some of the leading tourist destinations of the country.
What about insuring the safety of those who come here? Is this not the responsibility of the government to ensure that 'our' guests are safe here? One of the first priorities for attracting more and more tourists is having effective security arrangements to make them feel safe when they are in the city.
Some years ago, there was much talk of training the policemen to be tourist friendly. Tourist-friendly cops are nowhere to be seen and the visitors, too, think it best to maintain a distance when they see a cop slouching in some street corner in the vicinity of the Golden Temple eyeing a foreigner, preferably a woman.
The only time a tourist does approach the cops is when he or she has her purse snatched or gold ornaments snatched. Numerous incidents of tourists falling prey have occurred in the vicinity of the Golden Temple, particularly between the Jallainwala Bagh and Bharavan da dhaba. No effort has ever been made to station more policemen in this particular area to prevent such incidents from occurring again.
It is time Navjot Singh Sidhu and Bikram Singh Majithia ensured the safety of the locals and their guests than just laying claims of their respective parties to the mayor's post.