The serenity of City Beautiful was shattered by gunfire in recent days, raising concern over the law and order situation and the safety of its residents. In one of these incidents, a former student leader was gunned down in what has been described as a case of rivalry between gangs. More worrisome is the fact that the shootings have taken place outside malls and clubs that are places of recreation. With normalcy returning to Chandigarh after the lockdown, such incidents of crime will only create wariness among the people. The police and the administration had so far been preoccupied with Covid-related duties in the city, which meant that all energy was focused on enforcing rules related to the lockdown. With life gradually returning back to normal, it is time for the usual law and order routine to take precedence through vigil and verification. Being the capital of Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh serves as a convenient stopover for gangsters from both states, calling for greater coordination between the authorities of these states and the UT to avert such episodes.
That the incident involved youngsters and student leaders points to another factor. The lockdown has affected life on the campus and Panjab University has been no exception. Offline classes have virtually ceased and students had to leave with hostels being vacated. Because of Covid, there is also uncertainty over the holding of the students’ union elections this year. In the absence of activities, outlets to channelise the energy of the youth have been minimised.
Student bodies at Panjab University have always set a precedent, giving leaders to the mainstream political parties and even electing a woman president to head the students’ union. In such a backdrop, the tendency among the student groups to flaunt association with criminal gangs because of the raw power it helps them wield is unfortunate. The use of arms in incidents of crime points to their easy availability and their supply chain needs to be snapped. Gun culture will only serve to destroy the city’s unique character.