Delhi witnesses the highest number of vehicle thefts in India. A good number is stolen from parking lots, both authorised and unauthorised.
The figure is high because we register FIRs for almost all complaints. If Delhi sees the highest number of vehicle thefts it is because the city has over 80 lakh vehicles. It is more than the number of vehicles in any other metropolitan
city of India. People in Delhi buy cars but because of high property rates, a majority doesn’t have garages to park them. Vehicles are parked in the open or at unauthorised parking spaces which attract auto lifters.
What about cases of sudden provocation in which murders or violent quarrels take place over parking?
Tolerance level has gone down, hence the tendency to fight over petty issues like parking space. The police control room receives a good number of calls related to such quarrels. It is very difficult to control such fights. We can only take action against guilty parties and punish them for disturbing peace. People believe the public spaces where they have been parking are meant for them only. They don’t hesitate to fight if anybody else parks his or her car in that space.
Statistics show instances of crime against women, who don’t visit parking lots that often, have gone up.
The Delhi Police have always been sensitive towards crime against women and we maintain a zero-tolerance policy. My instructions are clear. FIRs should be registered immediately after receiving complaints from women without making changes in the contents. As far as cases of cases of crime against women in parking areas are concerned, the number is not very alarming and almost all the cases have been worked out.
Many parkings are operating in connivance with police. In 2011, a sting operation showed the then SHO of Rohini police station and some other policemen involved in operating an unauthorised lot on DDA land in connivance with local parking operators.
I don’t know about any unauthorised parking lot in Delhi that is being run in connivance with police personnel. And if any such complaint is brought to our notice, we verify it and register an FIR if the allegations are found correct. We do not encourage such illegal activities and anybody found guilty is strictly punished.
Delhi Police have been organising meetings with different RWAs where they discuss issues related to parking and emphasise on installing anti-vehicle theft gadgets. The response and result of such meetings have never been very fruitful.
It is incorrect to say these meetings have not been useful. But one has to view this problem from the perspective of the sheer number of cars and the ever-increasing vehicular population in Delhi. We are not trying to shirk responsibility. All we are trying to do is make vehicle-owners understand that taking an extra step to ensure the safety of their own property is in their own interest.
[As told to Karn Pratap Singh by Dipak Mishra, special commissioner of police (law and order)]