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Have a heart: HC to Chandigarh police on spurt in snatchings

Spurt in snatchings: Coming down heavily on police, court seeks report by March 21 on steps taken to curb snatchings.

punjab Updated: Mar 15, 2018 10:24 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
spurt in snatchings,Chandigarh,Punjab and Haryana high court
As many as 67 snatchings have been reported in the city this year so far, with the police managing to solve only 20 cases.(HT Photo)

A worried Punjab and Haryana high court on Wednesday came down heavily on Chandigarh Police over the spurt in snatching cases and sought a report by March 21 on steps being taken to curb the menace.

As many as 67 snatchings have been reported in the city this year so far, with the police managing to solve only 20 cases. Motorcycle-borne miscreants have mostly been targeting elderly women, leaving them injured while snatching their gold chains.

“Have a heart,” said the bench of justices AK Mittal and Anupinder Singh Grewal, while referring to media reports and photographs of victims carried by newspapers including Hindustan Times in the recent past.

“Would you react only when relatives of policemen and lawyers are targeted by the snatchers. There is total inaction on the part of police. All we want from you is that ensure safety of people and evolve ways and means,” the HC bench observed.

“Would you react only when relatives of policemen and lawyers are targeted by snatchers? How many snatchings have you solved with the help of CCTVs? Your 40,000 cameras are as good as useless.” — HC Bench, to Chandigarh police

Court hearing PIL

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by a lawyer, HC Arora, who had demanded that police be directed to take steps to fight the crime.

The UT police counsel told the HC that steps are being taken and in the past five years out of 950 cases, 600 have been solved.

However, dissatisfied with it, the court asked whether the accused persons have been identified and their names put on a website for their families to come to know about it.

“Do you think 300 is a small number? What do you mean that 600 cases have been solved? Did you put the accused behind bars?” the bench questioned, while warning the police that the court would be restrained to record that law and order has failed in the city. “Our concern is that the administration, police are not bothered,” the HC bench observed.

The Chandigarh police counsel reasoned that snatchings are happening in other places as well but news reports are not carried from other places since FIRs are not being registered in those areas in Punjab and Haryana. The counsel said a proposal has been mooted to increase the punishment as well.

The UT police informed court that nearly 40,000 closed-circuit television cameras have been installed in the city and police are in the process of installing high-resolution cameras. “How many snatchings have you solved with the help of CCTVs? Your 40,000 CCTVs are as good as useless. It has to operate in right time,” the court observed, as the UT counsel could not provide any figures.

What steps are police taking
  • Mapping of sectors prone to snatching
  • Increased deployment of cops in southern sectors
  • Higher frequency of nakas across the city
  • Round-the-clock patrolling by PCR vehicles

Why are snatchers having a free run

Organised gangs: Police investigations have revealed that chain snatching is the work of an organised gangs. Most of the snatchers belong to the Bawaria community. This nomadic tribe hailing from Uttar Pradesh is infamous for their alleged criminals activities. Apart from them there are repeat offenders who operate as a gang.

Easy targets: Snatchers mostly target elderly women, who are on their way to a market or temple or are sitting outside their homes during the day, and flee with their gold chains. Snatching of mobile phones and handbags are mostly reported in the evening, as it gets dark, between 6pm and 10pm.

Porous borders: The southern belt of the city — from Sector 31 in the east to Sector 39 and Maloya in the west — provides an easy escape to Mohali and surrounding villages. Investigations point out sectors where students are staying as paying guests are on the snatchers’ hit list.

Poor conviction rate: The conviction in snatching cases remains around 50%, as victims fail to identify the accused, leading to acquittal. The penal action too is failing to act as a deterrent.

Weak law: The UT police in April last year sought amendment in the law to make snatching a non-bailable offence with a rigorous imprisonment of up to 10 years. The proposal was sent to the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) for approval but is still pending. At present, the maximum sentence is of only three years.

First Published: Mar 15, 2018 10:24 IST