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60% of Delhi’s mammoth police force chaperone VIPs, as rapists run riot

Constables are the most neglected lot, depsite comprising of more than 85% of the police force

xperts and organisations working in the area of police reforms feel that following old colonial system of policing, lack of fear of police among criminals and absence of a cohesive strategy to deal with a specific crime has resulted in the ineffectiveness of police in the Capital.

The increase in rape cases in Delhi has shifted the focus to the functioning of police force, which has been unable to prevent sexual assaults on women after they're abducted from busy roads.

Executive director of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) Maja Daruwala says that the fact that there is an absence of fear in the minds of criminals is a matter of grave concern. "They're picking up girls blatantly from the streets; it shows that they have no fear of police," he rues.

Delhi Police has a sanctioned strength of 76,000 personnel for 1.70 crore residents of the metropolitan city. Though the ratio of police to citizens for Delhi is the same as New York City, which has 36,000 police officers for a population of 84 lakh, the similarity between the two police departments ends there.

While Delhi may have the dubious record of being the rape capital of India, globally, it is NYC that shames the world. As per the latest data released by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) the national capital witnessed 441 rapes in 2010. In the same year, the Criminal Justice department of New York recorded 1,036 rape incide-nces in NYC.

The figure in Gurgaon for the same year was 40. However, gross under-reporting of rape cases takes place in India, which is one of the reasons for the relatively lower numbers.

A few days back, a 23-year-old girl working in a pub at a mall in Gurgaon was gangraped by six men after they pulled her out of a cab. In a similar incident, a 17-year-old girl was gangraped by five men in a moving car after they dragged her into the vehicle from a bus stand in Noida.

Experts say that despite having an adequate number of personnel, Delhi Police is still short-staffed, as out of the total strength, nearly 60% of the police personnel are employed for securing VIPs and their movements.

In September 2010, the Delhi Police, in one of its largest induction exercises, admitted 6,008 constables, which included more than 500 women. But still the presence of constables on the streets is negligible, because most of them are on bandobast duty for politicians.

Navaz Kotwal, coordinator of Police Reforms Programme in CHRI, blamed the lack of strategy and planning on the part of police department across the state. "Primarily they do not have time bound plan. They should adopt a district-specific approach. Where there is more rape incidents, the police should have a separate strategy. Unfortunatey, they've been following a policy of reactive policing rather than proactive policing."

In September 2010, the Delhi Police admitted 6,008 constables, which included more than 500 women. But still, the presence of constables on the streets is negligible, because most of them are on bandobast duty for politicians.

Some believe that the centralisation of power in the police department has made the system blunt. A beat constable who works on the ground level is neglected by the police despite the fact that he is the ear and eye of the department.

"A constable needs to needs to be trained more effectively. Over 88% of the force is comprised of constables, yet they are the most neglected lot. They should be provided with investigative skills rather than just assisting power," said Aridaman Jit Singh, director of Nishan, which is working in the field of police reforms.

Kotwal adds that the focus should be on specialisation of the force and the investigation wing and crime control should be separate for it to work effectively. Daruwala feels that the force should work towards gaining the public's trust. "The public should feel comfortable to approach the police. It's the only way to control crime. The duty of police is to provide security to everyone. The police should not ask 50% of population to stay at home after night. "

Successive commissions starting from National police commission (1977), Riberio Committee (1988), Padmanabhaiah committee (2000) and Soli Sorabjee committee (2005) have suggested number of measures to improve policing in India but they have hardly been implemented.

Singh attributes this lack of apathy towards implementation of police reforms to the callous attitude of the bureaucrats. "They do not want change. Their status quo gives them more power and ways to abdicate their accountability, which they don't want."

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