Punjab & Haryana HC seeks to put brakes on free run of snatchers
Acting on PIL, high court puts UT admn on notice, seeks response by March 14.punjab Updated: Mar 01, 2018 13:45 IST
Chandigarh The spurt in incidents of snatching in the city has made the Punjab and Haryana high court take note of the menace.
Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL), the high court (HC) bench of justices Ajay Kumar Mittal and AS Grewal has put the Chandigarh administration, UT home secretary and the inspector general of police on notice for March 14.
The petitioner sought directions to the UT to take effective steps to check snatching incidents that he said have assumed alarming proportions last year.
From 161 incidents in 2016, the number reached 238 in 2017. In the first 50 days of this year, as many as 43 snatching incidents have been reported, the petitioner, advocate HC Arora, told court.
Southern sectors most prone
“Maximum incidents are taking place in areas falling under Sectors 34 and 39 police stations. As many as 98 snatchings took place in these areas in 2017,” the petitioner told the court. Meanwhile, the number of arrests also remain abysmal, he said. While 238 cases were reported in 2017, only 76 snatchers were arrested.
Pointing to the audacity of snatchers, Arora gave the example of a February 6 incident where some miscreants walked into a house in Sector 44 and snatched an elderly woman’s chain, leaving her injured.
CCTV cameras of no use
Citing data received under the Right to Information, the petitioner said closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed by the police played no role in catching a single snatcher last year.
CCTV cameras have been installed only on the city borders, in police stations, posts and headquarters besides traffic lights, he said.
“No CCTV camera is installed at any other strategic point within Chandigarh. Not even a single snatcher has so far been caught using CCTV footage, which reveals that those installed at traffic light points are not being monitored properly,” Arora told the court, while stressing the need for surveillance inside sectors. He said the footage can be monitored by resident welfare associations (RWAs) of the sectors concerned, while the police should regularly monitor the footage after installing more cameras at other strategic points.
What makes Chandigarh the snatching capital
The City Beautiful has seen an alarming rise in the number of snatching incidents. Here are some of the reasons:
Obsolete beat system: There are 146 beats in the city where 300 cops of various ranks have been deployed. But the manpower is not enough to ensure house visits, patrolling and intelligence gathering
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
Changing tactics: Earlier, the criminals used to strike in the morning or evening, but this winter has witnessed broad daylight snatchings. They mostly approach elderly women enquiring about some address and flee with their gold chains. However, over the years more mobile phones have been snatched as compared to gold chains, owing to their easier resale.
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.