Distressed Delhi

Distressed Delhi

For long, the country’s national capital wore the crime capital tag because of the high incidence of crime, higher than any other metro. Now, Delhi perhaps also qualifies to be the most distressed city in the country. The other day, city commissioner of police B K Gupta gave out startling statistics about the incidence of crime in the national capital. The city police control room received a staggering 1, 42,77,774 distress calls from Delhiites in 2011 – that is almost 40,000 calls a day or one call in every two second. Delhi Police statistics for the year 2011 shows that the crime graph has shot up and the total number of cases is up by four per cent over the previous year’s figures. Rape, molestation, road rage, murder attempts and kidnappings have all seen an increase in number in 2011. This portrays a sad state of affairs.

Delhi remains an unsafe place for women who put up with sexual harassment of one kind or the other every day. However, what is worrisome is their lack of confidence and trust in the law enforcement agencies. The dearth of gender-friendly and proper, functional infrastructure like street lights, public transport and toilets add to the woes of the women living and working in Delhi. Yet, it would be imprudent to brush aside the rising crime rate merely as a law and order issue. Unlike other metros in the country, Delhi has a vast area and shares its borders with many states. Its large migrant population, porous border with more than over 100 entry points, socio-economic divide and changing social dynamics make Delhi unique vis-à-vis policing any other city.

One can’t blame the police for all Delhi’s social ills. Their role in crime prevention and prosecution needs to be strengthened, but they also require strong community support. Delhi needs to change its attitude towards women. Their view of women as a commodity of lust and possession has to change. Identification of crime spots – isolated places, areas near women’s educational institutions, crowded markets – and strengthening the partnership with the community by engaging commoners might stem the malaise to some extent. Beat policing, neighbourhood watch system, which was high during the peak of terrorism, have to be revitalised. Delhi needs to draw a line – thus far and no further – and stem the rot. It has the resources. The stakeholders need to collaborate and draw a time-bound action plan for a better, safer and friendly Delhi.

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