A day after local MP Kirron Kher wrote a strong-worded letter to the UT inspector general of police raising concern over deteriorating law and order, HT’s Gurpreet Singh Chhina confronted SSP Sukhchain Singh Gill on why the police are not able to prevent crime and nail the culprits. Excerpts:
Q: What’s your take on MP Kirron Kher’s letter to IGP Tajender Singh Luthra?
A: The MP has raised concern over the rise in crime in colonies, such as Dhanas, Mauli Jagran, Sector-25 Bhaskar Colony, Maloya, Sector 38-West and Palsora. This year, we have registered 91 cases under the narcotics act, 131 under the gambling act and 625 under the excise act in these areas. All the accused in the murder of a youth in Bhaskar Colony have been arrested. We are studying the crime trend and trying to find reasons behind such incidents. We will ensure pro-active policing in these areas.
The police have failed to control snatching incidents in the city. Why?
Executing a crime like snatching is the easiest, making it the biggest challenge for cops. The snatchers don’t need proper planning, and zeroing in on them is difficult. To curb the crime, we have already arrested various snatchers, who had come out on bail. We are also mapping crimes to understand the trend of snatching in the city.
Don’t you think there is a spurt in snatching incidents?
No, I have gone through the data; snatching incidents are going down as compared to previous years. In July this year, the number of snatchings did go up, but we arrested many of the accused.
Snatchers targeted an elderly woman at a park in Sector 20 last Saturday. Such incidents are creating fear among residents and raising questions over police patrolling.
In this specific case, the snatchers took the benefit of the fact that night patrolling ends at 5am. After the incident, police presence has been increased in various parks. Many snatchers have confessed during interrogation that they failed in committing the crime a number of times because of police presence.
The carjacking incident in Sector 15 was another alarming case. Who is to blame for it: patrolling cops or the beat police? Also, cops on 60 PCR vehicles and 25 patrolling bikes failed to trace the luxury vehicle. Why?
It’s difficult to fix responsibility at this point. The robbers were not carrying any weapon and their movement was not suspicious. There was delay in informing the police, which probably helped the robbers make the escape before nakas could be set up. The residents should quickly pass on information to police on the PCR number 100.
Have you given any exemplary punishment to the patrolling staff or station house officers (SHOs) in case of lapses?
In case of snatching incidents, we give a warning to SHOs concerned and direct them to catch the accused within 15-20 days. Many cases have been solved.
The National Crime Records Bureau report has ranked Chandigarh third in recidivism (ratio of criminals returning to crime after coming out of jail). At 44.5%, Chandigarh is only behind Sikkim (71.8%) and Lakshadweep (48.3%) in terms of habitual offenders. What’s the department doing?
Recently it was learnt that most snatchers went back to the crime after being released from jail. The DSP (crime) has been asked to maintain records of all such criminals and keep track of their whereabouts.
With all these incidents, don’t you think there is lawlessness in the city?
No, Chandigarh is much safer than many other cities because of adequate police presence. Also, there is no organised crime here. The 24 murder cases reported this year were because of personal enmity, with no involvement of any gang. The major crime is vehicle theft, in which we have cracked 40% cases.
How do you plan to instil confidence in city residents?
We have decided to hold police-public meetings. Senior officers, deputy superintendents of police and SHOs will interact with residents to get their direct feedback.