The insecurity that has set in among Delhi residents, especially women, after Sunday night’s brutal gangrape of a 23-year-old physiotherapist is not without reason.
Just sample this: 7,315 policemen are deployed to protect 416 VIPs. And in a stark and shocking contrast, only one policeman is available to protect 500 average Delhi residents.
What is even more shocking is that more than half of the 83,762 police personnel for 1.67 crore Delhi residents are engaged in jobs other than policing the streets. They do odd jobs like assisting civic agencies in rounding up stray cattle, verify domestic workers and passport applicants and provide security at VIP weddings and social functions.
The result: There is minimal police presence on the roads to act as a psychological deterrent to criminals. This was perhaps why it was not the police but a highway patrol of a private company that noticed the rape victim as she lay on the roadside, writhing in pain.
In fact, the bus in which the accused took turns to rape her went around in the city, even on a national highway, for nearly an hour. But the police failed to notice anything untoward.
Delhi’s population-police ratio might be one of the best in India, but it doesn’t amount to better security. Experts feel the absence of police in large parts of Delhi does embolden criminals.
The odd jobs deprive the city of at least 45,000 of the 83,762 total police personnel who could be used for patrol duty.
Ten per cent policemen protect VIPs full time. Also, on an average, an additional 8,500 VIPs from across India and the world visit Delhi, whose security is also the police’s responsibility.
“If the entire police force is at work, at least one police personnel would be available for 200-odd Delhiites at any given point of time,” said a senior Delhi police official.
Officials say it is difficult to perform duties with the existing strength.
While the staff issue has been raised a number of times, nothing has been done.
Officials admit there have been instances of staff shortage when big crimes have taken place.
The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D) has pointed out that law and order should be separate from investigation.
Senior police officials also feel there should be a separate wing to assist civic agencies.