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Brawls, crimes ruining Chandigarh night life

Chandigarh, July 5 (Calcutta Tube) Planning to party into the wee hours or go for a late night stroll in Chandigarh? Beware of brawls, road rage, drunken driving and molestation incidents that have seen a spurt in this city and are spoling plans to promote night tourism.

‘Chandigarh roads have become very unsafe at night as you will certainly come across some tipsy youths driving rashly. They can even follow you and tease you. So I have made it a point not to travel alone after 9 p.m.,’ Mahima Sodhi, a call centre executive who stays alone here, told IANS.

The latest incident involves an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who was assaulted by three youths while returning home from a party with his wife last month.

Abhishek Dev, sub-divisional magistrate, was assaulted late at night by three youths near the traffic signal of Sector 9-10 over a wrong turn. The accused, who were travelling in an SUV, smashed the front mirror of Dev’s car and also misbehaved with his wife before fleeing. The incident occurred just 500 metres from the Chandigarh police headquarters.

As a senior official was involved in the case, police acted promptly and arrested the miscreants. But there are many similar incidents that go unnoticed every day.

In a similar late night incident in June, a 21-year-old hotel management student was killed by some people who attacked him with swords and sharp-edged weapons outside a liquor vend in Sector 24.

Again in June, some car-borne youths threw acid on a 32-year-old woman in the Sector 7 market late evening. She was admitted to hospital in a serious condition and sustained burn injuries on the face, arms, feet and eyes.

In the wake of the sudden spurt in such incidents, denizens of Chandigarh are feeling quite insecure while moving out at night.

Deepti Sharma, a government school teacher, said: ‘Chandigarh used to be a safe city but due to the migration of a huge number of people from outside, things have changed. After reading about recent incidents of late night crimes we have stopped our children from going to late night parties.’

‘The gardens have also become unsafe as many anti-social elements, including eve-teasers and drug addicts, gather there in the late hours. It makes things really difficult for families, especially women,’ she said.

Recently, the Chandigarh administration mooted a proposal to install special lights in gardens and other tourist destinations to promote night tourism in the city.

To promote nightlife, the municipal corporation had opened the first night food street in Dec 2008, on the lines of the Gawal Mandi food street in Pakistan’s Lahore city.

It is open 7 p.m.-7 a.m. and offers an assortment of cuisines at very affordable prices, with tables and chairs lined up right outside the shops.

But many cases of brawls and molestation, involving college students who stay in hostels or paying guest accommodation, were reported from the night food street. The youths were mostly drunk and created problems for families and girls.

This centrally-administered city, which is the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana, was designed by legendary French architect Le Corbusier for only 500,000 people. But now it accommodates over 1.1 million people with an additional floating population of nearly 100,000 that come here every day from neighbouring towns.

Chandigarh Police, however, are confident of the security arrangements.

‘We have increased night patrolling in the city, especially at sensitive areas and places like hotels, restaurants and discotheques, which are frequented by a huge number of people at night,’ H.S. Doon, Chandigarh superintendent of police (security), told IANS.

‘There is nothing to worry as PCR (police control room) vehicles remain alert all through the night,’ he added.

Doon said: ‘We are also installing special check-posts during late nights to catch rowdy youths and keep a tab on drunken driving.’

(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at alkesh.s@ians.in)

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