On the night of September 20, Tuesday, four men allegedly kidnapped a realtor at gunpoint after forcibly entering his car in a central locality of the city, Sector 35. Harvinder Bajaj returned home, but only after his friend paid a ransom of Rs 40 lakh. And the kidnappers remain untraced.
This is only the latest incident of crime that has petrified the residents and challenged the UT police.
Earlier this month, in the bustling Sector 15, two men took away an industrialist’s Mercedes car. The cops remain clueless in that case too.
On Wednesday, the city saw this year’s 100th incident of snatching.
This series of crimes in busy areas points to failure of the police on two fronts: prevention of crime, and investigation to crack cases. That’s particularly true in street-crimes such as snatchings and car thefts, seemingly petty crimes that dictate public perception, and fears, at large.
Sukhchain Singh Gill, senior superintendent of police (SSP) for Chandigarh, cited data to play it down, arguing there is no spurt in crime. “Tuesday’s story of kidnap is still to be verified,” he said, “We don’t know yet if what is being alleged actually happened. We are probing all angles.” As for the Sector-15 Merc robbery, he termed it ‘a fluke’.
About snatching, he told HT, “It’s a very easy crime, and stopping it is next to impossible.” He claimed, though, that the previous year’s snatching figures (January to September) were much higher at 140 up as against the 100 so far this year.
But what’s worrisome is that most of the cases this year are yet to see any arrest — 60 of 100 remain unsolved. Last year, 65% of cases saw at least an arrest.
Even local MP Kirron Kher wrote a scathing letter to the police chief. She asked the IGP to take action to flush out anti-social elements from slum colonies and other areas and provide a safe environment.
Why the problem
The UT police for long depended on officers who knew the city inside out: Satbir Singh, Vijay Kumar, Jagbir Singh and, before them, KIP Singh, SC Sagar, SC Abrol, BS Bector and Baldev Singh. They have now retired or aren’t alive. Now, four of the five officers who head different zones and specialised cells such as crime and operations are outsiders, that is, from other cadres. While this may have broken a nexus that some local police officers had with criminals and businessmen, it has led to difficulty in cracking cases.
“We’ve deployed the best officers available,” said a senior police official, not willing to go into detail or be named.
The police seem to lack focus, people believe. Prominent citizens point to an apparently lopsided focus on issuing traffic-violation challans. Lately, the police have started a drive against drinking at public places. And that is being lauded. But there are questions as to whether or not the cops have run a drive to nail hotspots of drug addicts.
Why the worry
Unsolved: 60 of 100 snatchings so far
Stolen daily: 2-5 motor vehicles
Still untraced: The Mercedes carjacked on September 2 in Sector 15
Cops clueless: In Tuesday’s kidnapping of a realtor in Sector 35