Delhi Police chief: No bias in riots cases, farmers have right to protest, women safety top priority

Though Delhi Police commissioner Rakesh Asthana initially refused to speak on specific investigations such as the Delhi riots cases, he asserted that there was no bias in their investigation

Rakesh Asthana
Rakesh Asthana

Ashlin Mathew

“Nobody is objecting to the democratic right of the farmers to protest. The agitation has been going on for a long time. We are committed to maintaining law and order in the city. The last time the farmers had come to Jantar Mantar. Nobody is objecting to it,” said Rakesh Asthana, the Delhi Police Commissioner.

Asthana said several cases were registered against farmers before he had joined, particularly after the Republic Day incident and a few cases after the incident. “We have investigated those cases, charge-sheeted,” pointed out Asthana, who had come to the Indian Women’s Press Corps for interaction with journalists on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

Farmers had stated that they would march to Parliament on November 29. Asthana reiterated that if there was an agreement with farmers for the march, they would work on it.

Though the 1984-batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre initially refused to speak on specific investigations such as the cases and chargesheets on Delhi riots, Asthana asserted that there was no bias in their investigation into these cases. “There cannot be any bias. Whatever we investigate is not the final thing. It goes to court and these investigations are evaluated. If there is some deficiency, it is being asked of the police to look into it,” said Asthana.

When it was pointed out to Asthana that the Delhi High court had pulled up the Delhi police for selectively slapping the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) on activists, Asthana maintained that these orders were sub-judice. “In certain cases where action has been taken, we have seen nothing is biased. If evidence is there, our chargesheet is made accordingly,” added Asthana.

Delhi police faces a shortage of women police officers, and the numbers stand at only 12.5% of the police force in the capital. When it was mentioned to Asthana, he underscored that according to the union government guidelines there should be 33% women police officers in the force. “We are working on that. Hopefully, by 2025, we will be at 25%,” explained Asthana.

Cases against women have risen in Delhi. According to the data shared by Delhi Police, crime against women in the Capital increased by 63.3% in the first six months of 2021 when compared to 2020. “Women do not need to fear the streets. We are running several community initiatives to sensitise people. We are identifying and covering areas where the streets are not well-lit, and we hope to add more facilitation booths in shadow areas,” said Asthana, who was ruled out of the race for the post of CBI director because he was about to retire on July 31, 2021.

The senior police officer, who has held top posts in multiple central agencies such as the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB), reiterated that the police force would be sensitised to not ask questions blaming women who come to report crimes such as ‘what were you wearing’, ‘why were you there at night’, ‘who were you with’. “I assure you there will be a change and you will see the change,” Asthana guaranteed.

Asthana promised that cybercrime cases will be investigated expeditiously. “It is a borderless crime. In cybercrime, the most important thing is to report it immediately. The Ministry of Home Affairs has set up a helpline number 155260 for reporting cyber crime immediately. In Delhi, we are linking 112 with 155260, to react to the situation immediately,” stated Asthana.

A cybercrime police station has been opened in each district in Delhi and they will begin working form December 1, 2021. Nearly 7,000 policemen have been trained for the last three months to handle these cases effectively, he said, while adding that they would improve the online registration of cases.

The Delhi Police Commissioner said that investigations were underway into the complaint filed by BJP MP Gautam Gambhir, who claimed that his family and he have received a threatening email from the id which states ‘ISIS Kashmir’. "We are examining Gautam Gambhir's complaint regarding the threat mail. Security outside his residence has been beefed up," added Asthana.

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