Barricading entry and exit points of localities, maximum visibility even at crowded markets after dark and better interaction with them on a fortnightly basis — these are the seemingly simple steps that residents across five localities feel can go a long way in making them feel less vulnerable.
At Malviya Nagar, for instance, an atmosphere of fear descends after dark even at busy places such as a bus terminal, a central market, a gurdwara and a popular neighbourhood park.
"Our area is surrounded by five-six unauthorised colonies and urbanised villages. People from those areas enter our locality, commit crimes and escape from one slip road or another," said Kulbir Singh, president, Residents' Welfare Association (RWA), Malviya Nagar. "Why can't there be more police patrolling around these lanes at night?" Singh asked.
Senior citizens such as Komal Kapoor, 65, agree, "The security guards in our locality keep changing almost on a weekly basis. Patrolling aside, the police don't even keep a record of these guards."
In Sarvodaya Enclave, which is 'exposed' from three sides leading to Kalu Sarai, Begumpur and Adchini, residents claim something as commonsensical as a token system can help the locality become safer and dissuade potential criminals from even trying to seek access to the area.
"This way, if not keeping a record of all the vehicles passing by the area, the police presence and the system can ward off criminals from entering the locality to gather intelligence," said Mukesh Sakhuja, a resident of Sarvodaya Enclave.
"For months, we've had police booths - erected at our own expense - near central parks and other areas where snatching incidents have occurred in the recent past. We wrote to the police and even met senior officers to request that someone be posted there, but to no avail," said Payal Aggarwal, vice president of the Sarvodaya Enclave RWA.
In adjacent Press Enclave, not much has changed even after the Saket police post was converted into a police station. "The area behind Press Enclave is badly lit. There is a bank nearby but the guards on duty are quite careless. Despite such circumstances, coupled with several incidents of vehicle thefts, there still isn't enough police patrolling, especially after dark," complained Captain (Retd.) Rajiv Ojha, a resident of Press Enclave.
"All we need is the will to tackle crime - not the numbers," he added.
The robbery shattered her sense of security
Rajrani Sharma, 79, housewife
resident of E-Block, Malviya Nagar
For 79-year-old Rajrani Sharma, a resident of Malviya Nagar since she got married in 1952, a burglary at her ground-floor house while she was away earlier this month came as a rude shock.
"I'd never imagined that breaking into my house and walking out would be easy for anyone," said Sharma who stays in E block with her octogenarian husband, a retired Captain from the Indian Army.
Sharma and her 83-year-old husband had left for a wedding at Dwarka on November 8. When the couple returned home earlier than scheduled, they were shocked to find the state their house was in. "They seemed to have known what they were doing," Sharma said. "They left the inside door locked like we had; but inside, there was not a single cupboard they hadn't ransacked."
The robbers took away Rs. 30,000 in cash and more than 20 grams of gold, she claimed. The local police were, of course, informed about the break-in but only as a matter of procedure.
"They came and took fingerprints, etc. It's been three weeks and nothing has come of their investigation. Had the police been good at their job, the break-in wouldn't have occurred in the first place," Sharma said.
Blitzkrieg of robberies in Sarvodaya Enclave
Mukesh Sakhuja, 53, Businessman
resident of D-Block, Sarvodaya Enclave
Sarvodaya Enclave has been at the receiving end of a blitzkrieg of robberies for six months, says Mukesh Sakhuja, a resident of the area for two decades.
The irony, he says, is that most of these flats lie on the main Sarvodaya Enclave road, which has a school and at least two dozen coaching institutes. "Two urban villages are located on either side of the area. Shouldn't the police at least worry about the safety of women students?" Sakhuja asked.
Residents feel something as basic as barricading on either side of the road can instill a sense of security. But the suggestion has fallen on deaf ears.
Sakhuja recalled a recent spate of burglaries in which seven homes on different floors but in the same line were burgled of items ranging from gas cylinders and inverter batteries to cash and valuables in the past three months.
"The police stepped up vigil in the area, but only for about two weeks. What makes matters worse sometimes is that residents from Begumpur Village park their cars in front of our homes. Sometimes there are altercations over parking space. The police know the area lacks security, but simply choose to do nothing about it," Sakhuja added.