Unsafe even in a crowded City

Capital Shame

Unsafe even in a crowded City

It is déjà vu for Delhiites! Precisely 13 months after a paramedical student was savagely gangraped and murdered by a bus driver and his minions, inviting the scorn of people not just in India but across the world, now a Danish tourist has been brutalised by eight men, that too, in the most populous part of the city – near the New Delhi Railway Station.

The incident took place in an open park, continued for over five hours (reportedly, in broad daylight around 4 pm) and surprisingly no police person, nor any passerby, spotted the ongoing criminal activity.

This incident begs the question: ‘How long will such brazen incidents continue to take place in the city and the authorities, simply, throw up their hands in despair?’

Jagmati Sangwan, general secretary, All India Democratic Women’s Association, says, “It is indeed startling that such a crime should take place in a crowded area like near New Delhi Railway Station, more so, just ahead of Republic Day when the whole Delhi should be on high alert. The railway station is also a sensitive zone, supposedly always on the radar of terrorists, and there should be heavy police presence in and around this place.”

“Where were the police in civil dress, the female police officers keeping vigilance and the all-woman commando as promised by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal?”

Kavita Krishnan of All India Progressive Women’s Association, who led several protests on Raisina Road after the December 16 incident, says there are several measures the Delhi government can take even if they have little power over the police, which is the usual excuse given by successive Delhi administrations.

“The Womanifesto we presented to all parties ahead of elections had various demands. These included secure toilets for women, more DTC buses with night guards, safety audits of the city etc. None have been implemented.”

“These incidents will continue to take place till the time the government starts taking proactive steps rather than just knee-jerk reactions once an incident occurs.”

Kalpana Vishwanathan of NGO Jagori says the uneducated, rootless migrant population of the city is a reality, combined with the spurt in crime statistics it causes, and the Government just has to deal with it.

“We must have more outreach programmes for men in the poorer areas of the city, especially slums, and address their problems related to literacy, employment and even social behaviour. The December 16 gangrape involved bus drivers and cleaners, and in this one, the perpetrators are vagabonds and drug addicts.”

Ranjana Kumari of Centre for Social Research, on the other hand, says the police must lay more emphasis on maintaining rosters of bad characters in each area. “It has helped in the Danish tourist’s case. I am sure it will help prevent and solve more cases before social programmes for different sections of the society can start bearing fruit.”

Lawyer Pinky Anand points out that the Rs 1000 crore Nirbhaya fund, sanctioned by the Centre to Delhi, for raising women’s safety measures, still lies unused. “I am sure that money was not supposed to lay eggs. So why hasn’t the government devised any way to utilise it? Also, Delhi still does not have any fast track court for rape cases. We still operate on a case-to-case basis. These are also areas that the government urgently needs to look at.” 

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