New Delhi: Unlike Mumbaikars or Kolkatans, Delhiites do not react sharply to incidents of molestation and eve-teasing. This assessment has been made by Delhi Police Commissioner BK Gupta, who feels that the active cooperation of the public is of "paramount importance" as police presence may not be available at all places.
"As compared to Mumbai and Kolkata where citizens sharply react to any incident of molestation or eve-teasing, such reactions are totally lacking or missing on the part of citizens of Delhi who have a vital role to play in preventing harassment to the women travelling in the city," Gupta said.
He made these comments in a letter written to a senior editor of a leading publication, seeking to dispel the impression that the capital is unsafe for women where a number of cases of crime against women were reported.
He pointed out that the police was not the only stake holder in preventing such crimes where the perpetrators are mostly known persons.
"It is, in fact, a socio cultural problem in which there is a large role of people themselves and the social fabric of a city.
"It leads to the point which I had highlighted that in ensuring safety of women, the active cooperation of members of public is of paramount importance since police presence may not be available at each place of incident of eve-teasing or molestation," the police chief said.
Seeking to emphasise his point, Gupta pointed out that in the Dhaula Kuan rape case, the police had reacted very promptly and the case was solved in a short time through professional investigation and highly painstaking efforts.
"...but it was the gross negligence on the part of the concerned BPO vehicle in dropping the girls late in the night at a distance from their residence that led to such an incident," he said referring to the abduction and rape of a call centre employee in November 2010.
On the recent RK Puram rape case, he said the school girl "went on her own with her boyfriend who sexually assaulted her along with his two accomplices. The culprits were arrested promptly but needless to say that such cases are very difficult to prevent".
In a metropolis like Delhi, he said, there were many reasons like unplanned urbanisation, over population, lack of privacy, disparity in income, unemployment, consumerism and loosening of social control and family discipline behind cases of crime against women.
"Added to this is the impact of mass media and umpteen advertisements which sell a life style that many want but cannot afford leading to crimes of various forms," he said.
According to the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau, Delhi has earned the dubious distinction of being the most unsafe metropolitan city, topping the list of ignominy in the number of atrocities against women.
As per the NCRB`s `Crime in India 2009`, the capital reported 23.8% (404 out of 1,696) of the total rape cases and 38.9% cases (1,379 out of 3,544) of kidnapping and abduction of women.
The city also reported 15.2% cases (104 out of 684) of dowry deaths and 14.1% (491 out of 3,477) of molestation.
The city has witnessed a sharp increase in rape and molestation cases since 2007.
In 2010, the city witnessed 489 rape incidents, including the infamous Dhaula Kuan and Mongolpuri incidents, as against 459 in 2009. The figure for 2006 was 609 followed by a drop to 581 next year. In 2008, it further dipped to 466.
However, the police chose to down play the rise in crime saying some other major world cities had a higher rate in this category. While the rate of rapes in Delhi was 2.8 per lakh population, New York had 10.6, Washington 32.6, and Cape Town 73.
Almost similar was the case with molestation incidents in the capital in these years, but it showed an increase to 585 last year from the previous year`s 532. While 2008 had 597 cases, there were 835 incidents in 2007 and 713 in 609.
In January 2011, 17 cases of rape were reported out of which 95% cases have been worked out. The accused persons in all these cases were found to be known to the victims and were first timers.
Similarly, 29 molestation cases were registered in January, of which 83% have been worked out.
According to Gupta, an analysis of figures of the last five years shows that while the projected population of Delhi has increased from 158 lakh in 2005 to 182 lakh in 2010 (an increase of 15%), the incidents of rape and molestation of women have actually come down in the city.
While the figures were 658 cases of rape and 762 cases of molestation in the year 2005, the same stood at 507 and 601 respectively in 2010. The per lakh incidence of rape has come down from 4.16 in 2005 to 2.78 in 2010.
Similarly, the per lakh incidence under the head `Molestation of Women` has come down from 4.81 in 2005 to 3.30 in 2010.