Two separate incidents of gang-rape have yet again highlighted the dangers that particularly young women face in the national capital. When such incidents occur, it is usually the Delhi police that comes under the scanner, since they are the prevailing institution when it comes to the maintenance of law and order in the national capital. Unsurprisingly, these rapes have triggered another round of war of words between the Delhi government, led by the Aam Aadmi Party, and the Delhi Police, which come under the Union Home Ministry. The Delhi Government, meanwhile, may approach the Supreme Court “to fix accountability” of the Delhi Police even as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal mounted an attack on the force for “failing” to ensure the security of women. Hitting out at police, Kejriwal alleged that it had “completely failed” to provide safety to the citizens and said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should “either act himself” or give AAP government the authority over law and order in the capital.
“The Central government is saying they don’t have money to spend on Delhi police that has 16,000 vacancies. Then why are they keeping the police under them? Give us the control of Delhi Police. We have, the funds and we are ready to provide security to the citizens of Delhi,” he told the media. It is abundantly clear that the police is not doing enough to ensure security for women despite repeated incidents of rape. Although opposition parties have hit out at Kejriwal for allegedly politicising the issue, it is clear that it is only the Delhi Chief Minister who has sought to take proactive action against the rising incident of rapes in the national capital.
Some of the steps the AAP government has taken in this regard include its recent decision to light up about 1,200 dark spots across the city and bring about a proposal to install CCTV cameras there. The list of about 1,200 such spots was submitted recently to the AAP government by the Delhi police, of which nearly 274 locations have been identified. According to Kejriwal, the Public Works Department will light up these spots across Delhi, where either there are no street lights or are non-functional.
The department will also be responsible for bringing out the proposal to install CCTV cameras all over Delhi, especially in the 274 ‘vulnerable’ locations. However, mere CCTV cameras are enough, since the Delhi police do have the requisite manpower to monitor CCTV footage. The lack of manpower is a serious concern for the Police Control Room (PCR) unit, which oversees the streets on a daily basis.
After the horrific December 16 gang-rape incident in the national capital, approximately 370 new PCR vans were inducted into the existing fleet of 630. Such an addition brought the number of PCR vans up to 1,000, and these vehicles are supposed to roam the city’s streets 24/7 to maintain law and order, especially at a time when crimes against women are on the rise. According to one news report by leading news daily, fewer than 600 PCR vans are patrolling the streets of Delhi during night hours.
As one might have guessed, the Delhi police do not have the requisite manpower to run the 24-hour service at optimum capacity. Besides driving around in patrol cars, personnel from the PCR unit are duty-bound to monitor roads, parks and vacant plots, besides auditing street lights and submit regular reports to the respective municipal corporation. For a city, which is home to over 1.67 crore people, the presence of merely 8,500 police personnel in the PCR unit is woefully insufficient. Instead of interfering in the AAP government’s affairs, the Lieutenant Governor and the Centre could do a lot worse than address these basic shortages. Although Kejriwal has not quite explained how his government will tackle these shortages if the Delhi police <g data-gr-id="37">is</g> brought under its control, at least he has taken a clear initiative to mitigate these concerns. What is clear is that under the Centre all these years, the Delhi police has often failed to protect the city’s most vulnerable.