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Chandigarh police stick to 10pm deadline to keep out late-night crowds at Sukhna lake

Suicides and attempts by people to take their life by jumping in the lake have made the Chandigarh administration extra cautious.

punjab Updated: Jul 07, 2018 10:09 IST
Rajanbir Singh
Rajanbir Singh
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Sukhna lake,Chandigarh police,Chandigarh
On the information board installed outside Sukhna lake,visiting hours have been removed.(HT Photo)

The cool breeze, rippling waters, with the distant lights of Saketri dancing on the surface, make Sukhna Lake an ideal place for relaxation after a day of hard work. Of late, however, the area has remained strictly out of bounds for crowds after 10 pm.

Suicides and attempts by people to take their life by jumping in the lake have made the Chandigarh administration extra cautious. Four such cases were reported this year, the most recent one on June 22 of a young man whose body was found floating in the water.

On May 16, a waiter from Kullu jumped into the lake and died. Two others tried unsuccessfully to kill themselves.

Sukhna Lake was built in 1958 by creating a dam around the Sukhna choe (stream) flowing down from the Shivalik hills. With a surface area of 3 sq km , it’s the biggest man-made lake in Asia and has a high footfall of domestic as well as international tourists who come to pay homage to this creation of Chandigarh planner Le Corbusier.

The administration had about 10 years ago banned entry to the tower (used for depth measurement) at the lake as it came to be known as ‘suicide point’ following a spate of deaths.

Stricter checks by the police have ensured that the area empties out by 10 pm, even though crowds were allowed here earlier till 11 pm.“These (tourists) people come from afar. We used to let them linger here and enjoy themselves before clearing them out by 11pm and close all roads to prevent people from wandering in,” a policeman at the Sukhna police post said. However, now the 10 pm deadline is being adhered to strictly because of the suicides.

SD Kalia, senior vice-president of the Sector 7 residents’ welfare association (RWA), who lives close by, says the administration should follow the example of Qutab Minar where people are not allowed to go atop the minaret in Delhi. “The same should be done for Sukhna Lake,” he suggests.

“The lake should be fenced off to prevent the suicides,” says Tushar Sharma, fitness enthusiast and a regular at the lake.

Police officials agree that a curfew spoils the fun for people, but they believe it is necessary. “It is too risky to keep the lake open at night. Not only suicides but many other petty crimes can also be committed,” they say.

Photographer Swadesh Talwar, a frequent visitor to the lake, believes a night curfew isn’t justified. “If someone is there with his or her family, it is highly unlikely that they will commit suicide,” he says.

The police should be alert for people who show suicidal tendencies, appear disturbed or linger on too long at a spot, and connect with them, he adds.

Some incidents over the years

October 2017: A 60-year-old Panchkula woman jumps into the lake with her daughter, the latter survives

October 2016: A girl attempts suicide over a love affair

January 2016: A 38-year-old man from Nayagaon commits suicide after going missing for a week

July 2013: A 17-year-old girl from SAS Nagar jumps from ‘suicide point’

First Published: Jul 06, 2018 11:53 IST