Crime capital in 2019, Delhi still not as safe as Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister

On Thursday the Prime Minister certified Uttar Pradesh as safe for women and others. But in the national capital, murder, rape, molestations, snatching and robbery go up after a year of lockdown.

Crime capital in 2019, Delhi still not as safe as Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister

Amitabh Srivastava

Women in the national capital are not safe even at home, it would seem. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week was speaking of how safe women now are in Uttar Pradesh, while addressing a gathering in Varanasi, his Government and Home Minister Amit Shah, to whom Delhi Police reports, seem to have failed to control crime in his backyard.

Kitty Kuamaramangam, lawyer and widow of former Union Minister P. Rangarajan Kumaramangalam, was smothered to death in her flat in Vasant Vihar in Delhi in the first week of July by the neighbourhood washerman. Days later another elderly lady in Dwarka was killed and her body hacked to pieces by a couple who had taken a loan of one lakh Rupees from her and had failed to pay the amount back.

The national capital is literally covered by thousands of CCTV cameras and face recognition devices. It is also well served by its almost one lakh strong policemen and women. It also has cutting edge technology for surveillance and drones. It presumably also has a data base of people with criminal record. But somehow it failed to prevent Delhi riots in February, 2020 and the spate of crime since then despite Amit Shah’s direct supervision.

In fact, in February, 2021 Delhi Police were patting themselves on the back and claimed there had been a 15 per cent drop in crime. As against 3,16,261 cases in 2019, the registered cases dipped to 2,66,070 in 2020, to a large extent because of the lockdown. But that did not prevent Delhi Police from boasting that rape cases had gone down by 21.63 per cent and molestation by 25.16 per cent.

Barely five months later, the new police commissioner Balaji Srivastava admitted to the media that crime had gone up by 8% in Delhi this year till June 15, compared to the same period last year.

Street crimes like snatchings, stabbings went up but rapes and molestation of women increased even more sharply. Five rapes and six sexual harassment cases were being reported in the national capital every day till June 15 this year, suggest updated data uploaded on Delhi Police’s website. Even more alarmingly, snatchings have gone up by 47% with around 23 snatchings being reported daily till June. As many as 3,829 snatching cases were registered till June 15 this year against 2,612 cases reported during the corresponding period last year. The cases of robbery had also gone up.

The latest data were made available on the website of Delhi Police a week after the new Commissioner took over charge from his predecessor, SN Shrivastava, who retired on June 30 after a 15-month term.

Between January 1 and June 15 this year, Delhi Police registered 833 cases of rape and 1,022 of molestation. The numbers are significantly higher than the 580 rape and 735 molestation cases filed during the same period last year. The number of heinous or ‘extremely evil crime’ dropped marginally from 2,436 to 2,315.

The situation seems to have remained unchanged since 2019 when a report in New Indian Express declared, “Rape and murder cases make Delhi the crime capital”. In 2020 The Hindu reported, “Delhi ranks first in crimes against women” and in 2021 a report in Hindustan Times confirmed, “Crime Capital: Snatchings rose in a year of lockdown”.

Pradeep Mahajan, a veteran Delhi journalist on the police beat and who who runs the Indian Newsline Services says,"The figures the police is giving out are five times lower because many cases are closed following compromise or go unreported because the FIRs are not registered.

Former Delhi Police Commissioner MB Kaushal admits the situation is grim but adds that in many cases there is little the police can do. Rapes and molestations are mostly committed by people known to the victims, family members and relatives. The lockdown may have led to more of these cases. An increasing number of youngsters are taking to crime, he points out, because small shops have gone out of business and their income stalled.

But while Uttar Pradesh has ushered in a Ram Rajya despite such handicaps, if the PM is to be believed, both he and the Home Minister have let down the national capital and its residents.

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