ON MARCH 13, a 26-year-old youth, Virender Singh of Saketri village, was assaulted, abducted and dragged to death under the wheels of a speeding Swift by a group of nine assailants near his home on the outskirts of Panchkula.
The murder led to a vociferous protest by residents of Saketri village and eight of the nine suspects, including Manmeet Singh, alias Monty, the son of local Indian National Lok Dal leader Kuljit Kaur Waraich, were arrested.
The murder highlighted the deteriorating law and order situation in many areas, including villages, slum dwellings, newly constructed rehabilitation colonies located on the outskirts of Tricity.
On the outskirts of Chandigarh, Panchkula and Mohali, the boundaries of some of the colonies, villages, etc. blend with each other and it is one of the reasons that in some of the cases (robberies, murders, snatching and others), criminals were involved in the crimes reported in the three cities.
It was the deteriorating law and order situation in Chandigarh that forced local MP Kirron Kher to write to the then IGP of Chandigarh police, Tajender Singh Luthra, who is subsequently holding the charge of DGP, Chandigarh, following a promotion, asking him to explain the reasons behind increasing crimes in colonies and villages of Chandigarh in September 2016.
Be it cases of murder, attempt to murder, robbery, rape or sexual assault, a major share of overall crime incidents was reported in these particular areas.
In Chandigarh, six cases of murder and three of attempt to murder were registered in the past three months. And, four of the six murders and all three attempt to murder cases were reported from the areas located on the outskirts of Chandigarh.
In Panchkula, if four murder cases were registered in the past three months, three of them took place in the periphery areas of the district, including Saketri village, Kalka and Morni.
In December last year, the gang rape of a woman residing in a village adjoining Dakshin Marg, Chandigarh, by two youths, including an auto driver, had left residents shocked.
Although the police claimed to crack the case with the arrest of one of the accused, another culprit, the auto driver, is still at large and there is no trace of the auto that was used in the crime. Rampant instances of murder, robbery and sexual exploitation of children in slum colonies and rehabilitation colonies have raised serious concern.
The most crime-affected slum areas and rehabilitation colonies in Chandigarh were Indira Colony, Mauli Jagran, Vikas Nagar, Colony Number-4, Sanjay Colony in phase-1, Industrial Area, Ramdarbar, phase-1, Hallomajra, village Palsora, Dhanas, Rehabilitation Colony, Dhanas, Teen Colony, Sector 61, villages Dadumajra, Dadumajra Colony (DMC)-38, Bapu Dham Colony, Sector 26, Bhaskar Colony, Sector 25 and others.
As per the police stations’ jurisdictions, areas of Indira Colony, Mauli Jagran, Vikas Nagar fell in the jurisdiction of Manimarja, Mauli Jagran and IT park police stations, Colony Number-4, Sanjay Colony come in the jurisdiction of Industrial Area police station, Ramdarbar, phase-1, Hallomajra fall in the jurisdiction of PS 31, Dhanas, Rehabilitation Colony, Dhanas is with Sarangpur police station, village Dadumajra, DMC-38 is with PS 39 and Bhaskar Colony in Sector 26 is with Sector 11 police station.
A senior police officer attached to Chandigarh police crime branch said, “In most of these areas, incidents of crime particularly attempt to murder, murder, rioting, assaulting, etc are the result of other issues, including liquor smuggling, drug peddling and even with prostitution. If we are talking about crimes in these particular areas, we cannot ignore these issues, too. Indeed, it is a fact that most of the criminal elements, majority of whom include thieves, burglars, snatchers, etc., reside in these areas.”
On August 3, 2016, a 17-year-old Vikas was stabbed to death by a group of seven boys, including five juveniles, in Sector 25 on the issue of selling liquor. Police investigation brought out an angle of rivalry between two groups over the issue of territory to sell illegal liquor in the colony of Sector 25 that led to the gruesome murder. Cops believed that Vikas belonged to one group and his assailants were linked to the opposite group.
Around a month after this incident, two women were assaulted and stabbed in Colony Number-4 on September 6 last year. The women, Kamla and Rani, had allegedly refused to give alcohol to a local resident, who had come out on bail in the connection of another criminal case, and the man stabbed both the women in Colony Number-4. Rani, who was taken to GMCH-32, later succumbed and a case of murder was registered at Industrial Area police station.
Subsequently, three days after this murder, a 17-year-old missing girl, Chanda, who was a high school student and resident of Colony Number-4, was found dead near a railway line passing through Industrial Area, Phase-1, on September 9, last year.
Following a complaint by the girl’s father, Uma Shankar, who claimed that his daughter was murdered by one Kuldeep, the brother of a local boy, with whom his daughter had a relationship, because the boys belonged to an upper caste and he was from a lower caste. Kuldeep and his brother Vinod were arrested. The case was registered by Government Railway Police (GRP).
In the same month, a 51-year-old cyclist, Shitu Ram, was hacked to death and his son, Deep Kumar, was severely injured by a group of seven assailants with the intention of robbery at pPase-2, Ramdarbar, on September 25. And the assailants confessed in custody that alcohol was also one of the reasons behind the crime.
The assailants included Vikram, alias Daad, Ajay, alias Pappu, Deepak, Sri Kant, Amit, alias Chhutka, Rohit and Anand, of Ramdarbar admitted that prior to committing the crime, all of them had gathered at the house of their associate, Sri Kant, had a few drinks and decided to rob people and targeted cyclist Shitu Ram and his son Deep Kumar, who was returning to their home around 9.45pm.
Five days after the murder, a drunken brawl between two groups resulted in the death of a member of one of the groups, Kuldeep Singh (25) of Patiala in Colony Number 4 on September 30, 2016. The victim came to his relatives in Colony Number 4 and his cousin, Bunty (22), who is a resident of Colony Number 4, suffered severe injuries. The assailant, Ajay Kumar of the colony, has been arrested in this regard. A case was registered at Industrial Area police station.
Sashi Shankar Tiwari, a local colony leader, said, “The real condition of law and order in the particular slum and rehabilitated areas of Chandigarh is much worse then what is being viewed by us. There are hundreds of cases that are not being reported to Chandigarh police. And, there are an equal number of cases, which were reported to police but cops refused to take any cognizance. These areas are a safe haven for drug peddling, liquor smuggling and running illegal activities.”
Acknowledging the increase in crime in the particular areas, Chandigarh administration had constructed five new police stations, including PS Sector 49, PS Sarangpur, PS IT Park, PS Mauli Jagran and PS Maloya. All thse five police stations cover the areas in the periphery of Chandigarh.
Crime statistics in periphery areas of Chandigarh, Panchkula
A total of 26 murder cases was reported in Chandigarh in 2016 and as many as 17 of them were reported in the areas of different colonies, villages of Union Territory. In the cases of attempt to murder, a total of 40 cases were registered and a total of 26 cases of attempt to murder have been registered with Sector 31 police station, Sector 39 police station, Mauli Jagran police station, IT Park police station, Manimajra police station, which covers maximum areas of villages as well as slum and rehabilitation colonies.
Colonies, villages most affected: Kurukshetra University study
A comprehensive study conducted by the department of geography at Kurukshetra University (KU) suggests that highest incidents of crime were reported from the area of different slums, rehabilitation colonies and others. The surveyors, who conducted the study, examined the crime figures and pattern reported between 2012 and 2014. It listed 19 areas of the city that are the high crime-prone areas. It has pointed out that Mani Majra and Industrial Area Phase-II were the murder-prone areas in the city. The areas of Mani Majra, Burail, Maloya, Dadumajra Colony, Parsola, Kajheri, Sector-56 , Ram Darbar Colony, Industrial Area- Phase-I, Phase-II, Hallow Majra, Daria, Sector 26 and Sector 25.