Afraid to send my granddaughter alone in car: Sheila Dikshit

Crime against women, safety concerns related with the elderly and children are some of the most daunting issues the nation faces even after 66 years of independence.

Biplob Ghosal

Crime against women, safety concerns related with the elderly and children are some of the most daunting issues the nation faces even after 66 years of independence. The common man, who votes for the government, expects that the chosen leaders would ensure safety and security of the public, but that hardly is the case.

Delhi – the capital of India in the recent years has witnessed an upsurge in incidents of crime. But the ruling Congress government has been in denial, refusing to accept responsibility and always placing blame on the city police, saying that the state doesn’t have administrative control over it.

Zee Media’s forthcoming distinctive show – ‘Nishane Pe’, interacts with notable political personalities and asks them some uncomfortable questions. In the inaugural episode, Bollywood actor and Zee Media anchor Ashutosh Rana put Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in the hot seat.

Rana began the show by confronting Sheila Dikhsit on the issue of elaborate security arrangements for politicians while the public lacked even basic safety measures. The Delhi Chief Minister underlined the importance of security for politicians saying that in the past the country has lost eminent leaders like Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi to acts of violence.

‘Women’s safety’, which has been the talking point in the national capital, was also taken up for discussion. When Ashutosh asked her as to why the female community didn’t feel safe in Delhi, Dikshit refused to admit that the system is solely responsible for the deteriorating law and order in the city. She said the situation has worsened and stressed on the need for changing the mindset of the people. “I used to travel in my car alone during my college days, but now I feel scared to send my granddaughter alone,” Dikshit said.

Using the platform, the Chief Minister reiterated her stand on bringing the police under the state government to enhance security. The Delhi CM expressed her helplessness saying that though the police come under the Union Home Ministry, ensuring safety measures in the city becomes only the state government’s responsibility and it is therefore blamed for lapses.

Dikshit admitted speaking to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on the issue, but at the same time said that as Delhi is the national capital and all foreign diplomats and ministers reside here, hence ensuring security to them is also a prime necessity. This she felt might be the reason for the central government’s reluctance to bring police under the state government`s purview.

Ashutosh Rana was quick to interject saying that when her plea went unheard, whether she ever asked the central government to relieve her of some of the responsibilities. Putting on a brave face, Dikshit said that the Delhi government does whatever is possible to ensure security for the people. “I feel that running away from responsibilities is an act of cowardice. When you work, the results can sometimes be good or bad,” she said.

She also took the opportunity to highlight the women’s helpline number ‘181’ started by the Delhi government under her leadership and said that the initiative had reassured people to some extent. However, she admitted that tackling cases related with the domestic violence remains a challenge.

Another important issue of the December 16 gang-rape case was taken up for deliberations. The chief minister expressed sadness and said that the situation at that time was tough. She also criticised people for not helping the rape victim and her friend while they lay helpless on the road for so long.

On the issue of public being aggrieved by the attitude of the police and hesitating to help the victims of road accidents due to fears of legal hassles and police questioning, Dikshit responded by saying that whatever be the situation, she feels humanity should be given the utmost priority.

When Rana reminded Dikshit of her 2007 statement, in which she had blamed the immigrants for the rising crimes against women in the city, the Delhi CM clarified by saying that she never meant to divide the national capital and said the city is for everybody. On a lighter note she added that Delhi is a great place, and whoever comes to the city never goes back.

On a question by Rana about why the national capital was always a soft terror target, the Delhi CM pointed out that terrorists would always try to attack a place which can bring them maximum coverage and focus.

On being asked about what steps would she take to ensure adequate security in Delhi if she was made the Prime Minister or the Home Minister of the country, Dikshit replied: “I have never thought of that and want to focus on what I am doing right now!”

(This episode of ‘Nishane Pe` will be telecast on Aug 23 at 8:30 pm)