It’s time Delhi Police ruled the streets
A day before the 150th anniversary of the Indian police was being celebrated at the Chanakyapuri Sports Complex in Delhi on December 8, a top officer of elite National Security Guards (NSG) met his counterpart in Intelligence Bureau, the organizers of the event, to say it would be very difficult of the Black Cats Commandos to perform a slithering operation from a Mi-17 helicopter–similar to 26/11 operations–as there were far too many trees and it was windy too. The Intelligence Bureau Special Director looked askance at the NSG officer and said does his force wait for ideal conditions before launching a counter-terror operation.
The NSG excuse is similar to the one offered by Delhi Police commissioner Neeraj Kumar who smugly observed that the three police control vans which were in the vicinity when a 23-year-old woman was horrendously raped last Sunday, could not take action as there was no call, no alert, no SMS or unusual activity while the crime was taking place on the Outer Ring Road. Surely, Kumar did not expect that the rapists out “on a joy ride” would allow the victim to raise her voice.
So while the nine policemen in three PCR vans were perhaps sipping hot tea at a friendly dhaba at Munirka, IIT Gate or Dhaula Kuan, the predators were on loose on the streets. With GPS devices fitted in all the three PCR vans, it will not be very difficult for Kumar to find out what his team was up to Sunday night. While the location of the PCRs and its managers can be accounted for that night, what about the beat officers and the Vasant Vihar police station, which is just next to the Munirka flyover. Every time a major crime is committed in Delhi, its police say that it is stretched on account on VVIP duties or it does not have enough men, machine or what have you. The facts are as follows:
* Delhi had 405.25 policemen per 100,000 of population in 2007, which is more than Britain(267.8), Australia (325.4), Canada (186.3) and Japan (152.3) during the same year.
* Delhi has one policeman per 223 persons as compared to West Bengal (1,239), Rajasthan (847), Maharashtra (721) and Uttar Pradesh (543). The only states that do better than Delhi are strife-torn Jammu and Kashmir (174), Manipur (87) and Tripura (82). These figures are as on January 1, 2011, according to a Home Ministry report.
* Delhi with an area of 1,483 square kilometers has one policeman per 0.02 square kilometers of area with nearly eight vehicles available per 100 policemen. Hardly any state in the country can beat this figure.
Yet, Delhi Police has always been leaden-footed in its response. Its pre-emptive capabilities are always in question and its post-crime glib justifications are dime a dozen. The brazen way in which the crime was committed on a major South Delhi artery on Sunday night shows that Delhi Police has failed to enforce the writ of law. Simply put, Delhi Police’s clout cannot deter the criminals to stay at home or worse the criminals know that they can always strike a deal with the law enforcers. The fact is that rather thumping the pavements of his beat, the constable handles more lucrative assignments and is constantly on the mobile phone. Despite there being more than 650 PCR vans prowling the city (they are provided tea and biscuits at night in winter), women in the city just don’t find themselves safe. The city, it seems, is left to its own at night with predators on the streets barring a few road check barriers with bored policemen watching the vehicles go by.
Can Commissioner Kumar find out whether any SHO, ACP, DCP, or Joint CP was on patrol that Sunday night in South West Delhi? It is normal practice that senior officers patrol areas under their jurisdiction by turns. Was any senior police officer patrolling South West Delhi Sunday night? The answer would probably be no as police officers like all human beings are more prone to socializing on Sunday evenings. So rather than adding more khakis or police vans to Delhi Police, time has come to make the law enforcers more accountable. This cannot be done by simply handing over the reins of Delhi Police from the Union Home Ministry to the Sheila Dikshit government.
Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde needs to take some tough steps by doling out exemplary punishment to those police officers found truant on that Sunday night. He needs to set an example that indifferent policing cannot be tolerated. But in a country where not even a single policeman lost his job even after 166 people were massacred in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks this is easier said than done.