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2008 was safest for women in years

There was a significant decrease in cases of rape and molestation in 2008, report Vijaita Singh, Karan Choudhury, Naziya Alvi.

delhi Updated: Jan 02, 2009 23:53 IST

There was a significant decrease in cases of rape and molestation

Going by the latest crime figures released by Delhi Police on Friday, the city is finally becoming safer for women.

The police’s annual report shows a 22 per cent drop in rape cases in 2008, compared to 2007. Molestation cases are down 29.34 per cent.

Experts say the police’s Parivartan (change) programme that deployed women police constables (WPCs) in the field has started showing results.

And credit is equally due to the city’s women. “Young girls, especially, have become smarter. Their emphasis is on identifying the (potential) rapist around them much before the crime,” said Rajat Mitra, Director of Swanchetan, a society that counsels victims of violence and abuse.

Mitra said even women in rural areas had become aware and were seeking their advice.

Some other experts, though, feel the figures could be an eyewash — crimes could be under-reported as victims of rape fear the social stigma and harassment they often face in police stations as well as courts during the legal process.

“Most rape victims are migrant labourers who choose to leave the city

instead of lodging a rape complaint,” said lawyer Poonam Lau.

Although snatchers had a field day

With over 1,300 cases of snatching reported in the year 2008, moving around the city with bags, gold chains and cellphones was a dangerous proposition.

There was also a significant rise in the number of snatching cases reported from outside banks and ATMs.

According to Delhi Police, most of the snatchers arrested were first-time criminals, who are either illiterate or school dropouts, and are below 25 years of age.

There was also a slight increase in cases wherein firearms had been used to intimidate victims. The number of such cases touched 330 in 2008. Criminals armed themselves with not only country-made firearms but also sophisticated calibre weapons. For instance, the Bunty Gang, which was wiped out, used .30 calibre pistols procured from UP.

Delhiites retained their shoot-at-slight instinct

Delhiites are quick to take offence at imaginary slights. And just as quick at drawing a gun or knife to kill.

Consider these examples: a man was stabbed to death in south Delhi for tying his goat in front of a neighbour’s house; a cook was shot dead by a restaurant guest, for he forgot to serve papad.

Delhi Police statistics show that ‘sudden provocation’ led to 17 per cent of the murders in 2008.

In 95 per cent cases, the killers were first-timers — with no criminal record pending against their name. That ‘hot blood’ is the biggest problem in Delhi can be gauged from the fact that 57 per cent of the accused arrested were below 25 years of age. Also, 16 per cent of the murders were categorised as ‘crimes of passion’.

There was an 11 per cent increase in the number of murders reported in the city last year. Overall, 518 murder cases were registered in 2008, against 467 in 2007.

As per the police records, 93 per cent killers were school dropouts.

Continuing on the passion and rage theme, the maximum number of ‘hurt’ cases were reported from the roads. There was an 11 percent increase in such cases compared to 2007.

In 14 per cent of the ‘hurt’ cases, the offending weapon was a hockey stick.