The acute parking space crunch in the Capital has transformed the parking lots into ground zero for murder, rape, molestation, thefts and not to mention the daily bickering.
A murder and robbery each, two rape incidents, five cases of molestation and as many as 203 auto thefts have been reported from parking spaces this year (till July 31), as per police statistics.
Blame it on the monumental number of vehicles on city roads, the level of stress is highest while Delhiites are behind the wheels or looking for a space to park their vehicle.
And one of the most common places where this stress plays out are colony roads and other places that are used for parking.
In a city like Delhi, notorious for its traffic as well as road manners, frequent arguments over parking have also snowballed into murder. Police records show that 15 people have been killed over parking-related issues in the past five years. Also, the city witnessed 27 cases of violent clashes over parking in the year 2012.
Last year in east Delhi’s Geeta Colony, 45-year-old three-wheeler driver Radhe Shyam was bludgeoned to death by a father-son duo. Shyam had parked his vehicle outside his sister’s house — a space which the accused claimed was ‘booked’ for their vehicle.
“They forced Shyam to move his vehicle over which an argument broke out between them. The issue soon spiralled out of control and the accused attacked Shyam with baseball bat. He died on the spot,” said a senior police officer.
Parking in open spaces is a free invitation for auto lifters to strike at will. Statistics show at least 40 vehicles are stolen every day in Delhi. At times, cases of vehicle thefts are also reported from authorised parking lots.
“With more and more people buying cars, service lanes in most residential colonies remain packed with vehicles,” another senior police officer said.
Colonies such as Greater Kailash, Defence Colony, Green Park, Saket, Lajpat Nagar, New Friends Colony, Mayur Vihar, Moti Nagar and Rajouri Garden often witness people arguing/clashing over parking space.
TN Mohan, special commissioner of police (operations), admitted that the police control room receives frequent calls related to deflated or slashed tyres, broken windowpanes and wipers or missing rear view mirrors from parking lots.
“…Parking is not allowed…tyres will be deflated; Fine of R500 would be imposed - these are common warnings found written on the walls of several residential localities across the city. On an average, our police control room receives at least two to three calls every day related to arguments and brawls,” said Mohan.
A few months ago, a Delhi high court lawyer, Medhanshu Tripathi, was brutally assaulted by an autorickshaw driver outside New Delhi Railway Station just because he had asked him to move his three-wheeler.
In the upscale colonies, people often lodge complaints with the police against their neighbours for ‘encroaching upon their parking space’.
“Apart from the cases of vehicle theft, we also get cases of car accessories and electronic items going missing from inside the parked vehicles. Sometimes, people complain about theft of fuel and misuse of their vehicle. On the other hand, authorised parking lots turn safe havens for criminals who park stolen vehicles there after using them in committing crimes,” the officer said.
These problems continue to grow because of an unholy nexus between the police, corrupt officials of land-owning agencies and the contractors. In the absence of organised and well-regulated parking spaces, mafia continues to flourish, fleecing people.
In 2011-2012 a sting operation by a news channel had shown the involvement of the then station house officer (SHO) of Rohini police station in the running of an unauthorised parking on DDA land.
A cop tried to dissuade me from filing an FIR: Praveen Anand
Praveen Anand had only heard about the nexus between the police, the parking mafia and auto-lifters till his own car was targeted in July.
Anand’s car was in a parking lot, located near the Moti Nagar Metro station, when thieves took away the car battery. But it was only the beginning of this travails.
“The thieves opened the car bonnet and took away the battery on the night of July 31. I discussed the incident with my close friend who advised me to call up the police control room (PCR). I made the PCR call before contacting the beat officer to register my complaint,” Anand told HT.
But only a bigger shock was awaiting Anand, who is a senior official with a leading airlines.
The beat officer reached the spot and allegedly offered him a new battery as compensation in return for not lodging a formal complaint.
“The moment I informed him about the theft, his first reaction was to know if I have made the PCR call. When I responded in the affirmative, his expression changed,” said Anand, who resides in Moti Nagar A-type quarters.
Anand refused to take up the alleged offer. He claimed the beat officer told him that it will cause Anand a great pain in filing an FIR, then pursuing the case, appearing before a court and visiting the police station if the battery is recovered.
“My complaint is yet to be registered at the Moti Nagar police station. No wonder, the thieves continue to run riot. Batteries of at least six other cars were stolen from my locality on the intervening night of August 3 and 4,” he said.