In London, a man is captured around 300 times a day by CCTV cameras installed across the city. London has, a survey says, one CCTV camera for every 11 people, making it one of the most watched societies in the world.
Back home, the National Capital has around 3,677 CCTV cameras installed by Delhi Police. There are another 1.60 lakh private CCTVs and 4,000 set up by the Delhi government – which means one camera watching approximately 110 people.
Though it can’t match London, the growing electronic surveillance in Delhi has come as a boon, acting like a third eye for the police, helping the law enforcement agency crack some of the most sensational and blind cases in the past few months.
Be it a theft in a south Delhi temple or the murder of NDMC’s legal advisor MM Khan or the killing of Congolese national Masonda Ketada Olivier in Vasant Kunj in May this year, these cameras have always provided the police the first leads to crack a case.
One of Delhi’s most high profile cases — the December 16 2012 gang rape case — was cracked with the help CCTV footage from a hotel in Mahipalpur that had captured the suspected bus. It was a landmark case that set the tone and encouraged the police and other agencies to set up more CCTVs across the city.
A senior police officer privy to MM Khan’s murder probe told HT that though investigators suspected the involvement of contract killers behind the killing, they were struggling to identify the suspects. The cops grilled more than 100 people before finally stumbling on the CCTV footage in which they spotted two men following Khan’s car on a motorcycle.
“We procured the video footage from a CCTV camera installed at Johri Farm, near the crime scene, and examined it. It helped us identify the motorcycle’s registration number and that led to the arrest of the alleged killers,” said Mandeep Singh Randhawa, DCP (southeast).
In the 29-year-old Congolese national’s murder, a CCTV camera installed at a motor garage captured the three suspects fleeing. While examining the video footage, constable Kartar of the Vasant Kunj police station identified one of the suspects as Mohammad Azad Saifi, whom he had arrested in 2015 in a case of sexual harassment and physical assault.
The availability of a third eye also helped the police nail a juvenile driver who ran over a 32-year-old marketing executive with his father’s Mercedes in north Delhi.
“In that case, we were able to produce video evidence to corroborate that the accused was driving at a dangerous speed, caring little about the lives of others,” said an officer.
The cameras while constantly helping police nab the wrongdoers have at times come to the rescue of people who had been falsely implicated.
The police, for example, earlier this month busted a gang of extortionists led by a young couple and rescued two students.
The gang’s kingpin, a 25-year-old woman, had accused the two youths of abducting, drugging and then gang-raping her in a car. The woman said she was later thrown out near Delhi Police’s headquarters at ITO.
“There were discrepancies in her statement, but a case was registered against the two youths. We collected CCTV footage from the route that the woman claimed the suspects took. One of the CCTVs installed near the Sarai Kale Khan Bus terminal showed that the woman was not in the car with the youths. In fact, she along with her live-in partner was tailing the car driven by the two accused,” said Randhawa.
Street crimes such as snatching, pickpocketing, and vehicle theft have seen a significant decrease after CCTVs started monitoring most of the public spaces.
Last year, statistics revealed, police in the eastern part of the city had solved 28 cases with the help of CCTVs.
Police said plans were afoot to set up thousands of more CCTVs to make the city safer under the “Safe City Project” at an estimated cost of `1,704.13 crore.