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Chandigarh: Easy availability of firearms reason behind rise in crimes, says SSP

In the wake of violent crime incidents in Chandigarh and surrounding areas, SSP Eish Singhal talks about the need to keep tabs on security agencies and curb supply of weapons to criminals.

Don’t you think that the broad daylight murder of sarpanch Satnam Singh in Sector 38 shows the deteriorating law and order situation in Chandigarh?

You can say it, but I cannot. There was a rivalry between the victim and assailants and both the parties were known to each other. This incident could have happened anywhere. If the assailants had shot a stranger or robbed
a person in broad daylight, then we could have said without hesitation that the law and order condition is deteriorating in Chandigarh. In this particular case, the place, where the crime was executed, does matter. And the place was Chandigarh. We are coordinating with the neighboring state police for cracking this particular case and all the assailants have been identified.

What about the murder of local bouncer Amit Sharma alias Meet who was gunned down at Saketri in Panchkula?

In this particular case also, the murder could have happened anywhere. It could have happened in Chandigarh also. We should not generalise such incidents. Amit was attacked at a gym in Sector 26, Chandigarh, last year, but he escaped and one of his close aides was hurt in that incident. In that case, we arrested all four persons, including Gagan Rana, who is currently lodged at Nabha Jail and believed to be the mastermind behind the murder of Amit Sharma. We are providing all possible assistance to the Panchkula police.

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One of the reasons behind the murder of Meet is professional rivalry over capturing the growing unregulated business of providing bouncers. What is your point of view?

Yes, this particular incident was an eye-opener for us. For the first time, we have decided to maintain a record of all private security agencies that provide bouncers along with the antecedents of bouncers. The Private Security Agencies (Regulation) Act, 2005, which is already applicable in Chandigarh, will have to be implemented strictly in the city. We have decided to identify unregistered security agency companies which are being operated illegally and providing bouncers and guards in the region and legal action will be taken against them. We have also requested Panchkula and Mohali police to keep tabs on the security agencies being operated in their areas.

The use of firearms in these murders shows that there is no check on the availability of weapons to criminals. Do you agree?

The easy availability of illegal firearms to criminals is one of the main reasons behind these crimes. Be it Chandigarh, Panchkula, Mohali or any other city – the manufacturing and supply of illegal weapons has increased in the past few years. We will have to accept the fact that law enforcement agencies have failed to curb the supply of weapons to the extent that is required. We have been discussing this issue in our regular joint crime meetings involving police officers from Punjab, Haryana and even from Bihar and UP. In Chandigarh, we have seized more than 100 weapons in the last two-and-a-half years.

Concerns were raised over security guards not being trained. Do you think trained guards could prevent incidents like the recent cash van heist at Banur?

We cannot shift the entire onus for such crimes on the security guards being trained or untrained. There was a robbery at the State Bank of Patiala at Khuda Ali Sher in June 2014 and one of the security guards had opened fire on the robbers. The firing caused a minimum loss of Rs 5 lakh despite the fact that crores of rupees were kept in the bank. There are instances when robbers take the advantage of untrained guards and commit robberies without any opposition. It is the responsibility of the local police and the administration to ensure that the private security agencies provide only trained guards.

Why Chandigarh Police have failed to crack some cases of robberies, rapes and murders, including Karan Jewellery robbery in Sector 22, murder of Akansh Sen and a gangrape of a girl by two auto drivers?

First of all, you can call some of these cases as unsolved. But in view of police, these cases, except from the Karan Jewellery robbery in Sector 22, have been cracked but some of the accused in these cases are still at large. In the murder of Akansh Sen, we arrested Harmehtab Singh Farid and accused Balraj Singh Randhawa must be hiding somewhere. Randhawa has been declared a proclaimed offender (PO) and his properties would be attached by a local court. We will nail him soon. In the rape case, one of the suspects has been arrested and his DNA report is pending. In the Karan Jewellery robbery, efforts are still on.

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