A life for a life is the answer?
DELHI BULLY: YEARS OF INACTION AGAINST RAPISTS HAS COME HOME TO ROOST
The brutal gang rape and torture of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in Delhi has sparked widespread protest across India, with people venting out anger against police and the government. They are also enraged over the weak existing law, which has resulted in several accused getting acquitted in cases after cases.
This was not the single incident of gang rape that took place in the so-called most secured city. In barely a month, five gang rape incidents were reported from across the city, despite Delhi Police having at least 80,000 personnel in the force.
Over 650 rape cases have been reported in Delhi this year so far. In 2011, 572 rape cases were registered in the city, while in 2010 there were 507 incidents of rape. Over 452 cases were registered in 2009.
In 2011, the maximum number of victims belonged to the age group between 18 and 30 years — 194 cases. Victims aged between 14 and 18 years were involved in 185 cases.
No action taken
According to this data, rape cases have kept on increasing, but police commissioner Neeraj Kumar feels otherwise: “More and more victims are coming forward to report,” he says.
Instead of booking traffic officials responsible for allowing private school buses to ply on city roads on weekends as passenger buses, they are shielding them.
After the gang rape and torture of a woman while she was with her male friend on December 16, senior police officials have not booked traffic officials for allowing the school bus to ply as a passenger bus.
The incident clearly shows negligence on the part of police, as Neeraj Kumar’s tall claims about police officers being deployed at bus stands were nowhere to been seen.
In several rape and gang rape incidents, the accused get acquitted due to lack of evidence. But the trauma of being raped remains throughout the victim’s life. She has to live with it every day. Not even once has any police officer held himself responsible for such negligence and taken moral responsibility.
In the gang rape of the physiotherapy student, none of the police officers also took responsibility on moral ground. Neither Vasant Vihar police station officers nor the deputy commissioner of police even once said it was their fault, and such an incident should not have happened had strict policing was done in the area.
Instead, they kept on appreciating each other over cracking the case and arresting four accused in 12 hours.
On the conviction rate of rape accused, Neeraj Kumar says it is over 40 per cent in the city. “We need fast track courts so that none of the accused get acquitted; they must get the maximum punishment,” says Kumar.
Anger on the streets
Irresponsible policing in Delhi has left people in shock and anger. Their rage against police has spread across the country, with people and women protesting against police for the last five days.
“I was travelling in a DTC bus and a few miscreants molested and misbehaved with me. I saw a police control room van near Sarojini Nagar bus stop,” says a Jawaharlal Nehru University student who doesn’t want to be named.
“I got down and reported the matter. But the cops kept watching the bus to pass by and told me to go to the nearest police station or call 100,” she says.
Despite knowing that someone came for help, the PCR van refused to move from its designated point. Instead, it waited for the call from the control room. “We can’t go until and unless we get a call from the control room,” says a police officer deputed with a PCR van.
Faced with public outrage, just two days ago Neeraj Kumar directed PCR vans to patrol their areas every half-an-hour.
There are at least 83,762 personnel in Delhi Police, and some 7,000 are deployed to protect 400 VIPs in the city. Two crore people live in the city and surprisingly, there is only one police officer for every 5,000 people. Many of them have also been deputed to economic offence wings and other desk and odd jobs.
Though the year is 2012, police follow the ideas laid during pre-colonial era by the British.
There are several officers posted at the police headquarters and other such places just to salute their seniors. In the headquarters, a few personnel wearing ceremonial caps are deputed to salute senior officers. Many officers are also deputed to give security to civic agencies.
Due to such mismanagement of the force, there is minimal police presence on city roads, where they are actually needed. If the maximum number of police officers patrol a large part of the city, it will act as a psychological deterrent to criminals.
Police reforms on paper
Former army chief General V K Singh, who was at India Gate to support the protesters, says, “The incident was sad and pathetic. Law and order is deteriorating and needs to be improved. Police reforms are lying for years; they need to be implemented.”
Police have sent a proposal for more PCR vans, but the request has been gathering dust at the home ministry for a year. Similarly, a proposal for giving first-aid training to police officers has been lying with the home ministry for several years. It was only after a senior bureaucrat’s son met with an accident that the ministry finally woke up to passing the proposal.
General Singh says policing is so bad in the city that not a single woman wants to go to the police station to file a complaint.
Backing General Singh, Delhi University student Aarti Sinha says, “When we went to the police station to report a pick-pocketing incident, the officers told us that we may have lost the valuable, instead of it being stolen. After that I never went to any police station.”
“Police’s primary duty is to ensure safety. They should be punished because they have failed. Dumping responsibilities on each other will not work,” says General Singh.
Hundreds of people Delhi do carry General Singh’s perspective about law and order here.
Police had started on the blind case on the basis of sketchy information provided by the girl’s male friend, who was with her during the incident. We shortlisted 370 carriage buses, which were white. In 18 hours we had the bus and the driver
neeraj kumar | police commissioner
* Need more PCR vans: Police have sent a proposal for more PCR vans, but the request has been gathering dust at the home ministry for a year
*They don’t care: Similarly, a proposal for giving first-aid training to police
officers has been lying with the home ministry for several years. It was only after a senior bureaucrat’s son met with an accident that the ministry finally woke up to passing the proposal before more time is lost
* Low conviction: In several rape and gang rape incidents, the accused get
acquitted due to lack of evidence. But the trauma of being raped remains throughout the victim’s life. She has to live with it every day. Not even once has any police officer held himself responsible for such negligence
Police’s primary duty is to ensure safety. They should be punished because they have failed. Dumping responsibilities on each other will not work. Law and order is deteriorating and needs to be improved
general (retd) v k singh | former army chief