Neera Bountra, a resident of Senior Citizen Complex at Greater Noida, is peeved over the lackadaisical attitude of the police in controlling crime in her locality. On August 11, robbers barged into her house and decamped with cash and jewellery and other valuables worth lakhs.
"I suffered a loss of about Rs 10 lakh. After I lodged an FIR at Kasna police station, two policemen came, asked a couple of questions and went away. Since then, there has been no response. How can senior citizens be safe?" she said.
In December 2009, robbers took away certain parts of her society's lift. "Criminals are having a field day. They steal car tyres, stereos and even vehicles at their will," said Ishwar Prakash, another resident.
Madan Rai, a resident of Sector 51, was a victim of chain snatching. A month after filing the complaint at a police station, he went enquire about its status. "There was no progress. The police did nothing. I thank my stars as robbers have spared my life," Rai said.
Noida - one of the most sought-after destinations for MNCs and cyber firms - is yet to recover from the shock of bone-chilling Nithari serial killings and Aarushi-Hemraj murder cases. With the affluence, criminal gangs too thrived. Incidents of burglaries, vehicle-thefts, chain-snatching and day-light robberies became common.
With an ineffective law enforcement system, Noida residents are increasingly realising the need to fend for themselves. In majority of residential areas, RWAs have employed private security guards, installed CCTV cameras to fortify themselves against criminals.
Residents of Shakti Kunj in Sector 62 had installed CCTV cameras after a couple of thefts in their society. "The police are ineffective in curbing crime," said Satya Kam, secretary of RWA, Sector 62.
There are about 33 criminal gangs operating in Noida. According to police, in 2010, on an average, 155 vehicle thefts, 17 robberies and 13 burglaries take place in a month.
According to statistics, a single policeman is available to guard 1,086 residents in the entire Gautam Budh Nagar district with a population of about 25 lakhs.
In January this year, robbers carted away an ATM machine with Rs 30 lakh inside on a tractor-trolley from Alpha Sector. In yet another day-light robbery, several armed robbers fled away with Rs 26 lakh from a petrol-pump in Sector 35 on June 14. Both cases are yet to be solved.
RTI activist Commodore (retired) Lokesh Batra said the police have failed to earn peoples' respect and confidence. "Criminals are not scared of police but the common man is. To improve the system, we need to look at what is ailing the police force," he said.
Vipin Malhan of Noida Entrepreneur Association said the police have failed to curb crime during past one year due to shortage of resources and personnel. Although police say that only 700 odd cases pending with them, a low conviction rate of around 10-15 per cent also help criminals move out in the open.
'Robberies are a major challenge'
Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Gautam Budh Nagar
What has been done to modernise the police force?
We are in the process of installing 125 CCTV cameras at markets, crossings and sensitive points in the city.
We have upgraded and modernised PCR van movements.
More interceptors and leopard bikes have been stationed at important points in the city. We are also working on increasing technology-based beat policing in residential areas with the help of latest devices.
Why is the crime rate on the rise as seen by the figures of last three?
Several gangs operate in and out the city. We are strict when it comes to registering FIRs and all chain snatching incidents are now lodged as robberies.
Any plans for the upcoming Commonwealth Games?
We have been coordinating with nearby areas like Delhi and Ghaziabad to track criminals during Commonwealth Games. We accept robbers are a major challenge.
Are people loosing faith in police?
Residents are always supportive and coordinate with us.
We are emphasising more on police-public interaction. We hold regular and periodic meetings with residents and the RWAs as confidence-building measures and work on suggestions.
(As told to Peeyush Khandelwal)
Month on, no clue of victim
Gyan Prakash and Madhu Sharma
Harsh Vardhan Sharma (24) was abducted on July 23 and has been untraceable since then. The Sharma family received a ransom call of Rs 15 lakh claiming that their only son, Harsh, a marketing engineer, was abducted.
Harsh's car was recovered from Hoshiarpur village in Noida a day later and his mobile phone was found from a Sector-36 park. The case was later transferred from Delhi to Noida.
"The kidnappers never called us again after July 24," said the victim's father Gyan Prakash Sharma, an official with the Delhi Development Authority (DDA).
"The suspects were not interrogated and got away as they are from influential families," he said. "We have no clue yet about the kidnappers or the victim," said DSP R.N. Mishra.
(As told to Kapil Datta)
'Someone always stays home'
SECTOR 62, NOIDA
Anju Sinha's family suffered a major loss with a robbery in the house and a vehicle theft within a month.
Now, she ensures that someone is home at all times. On March 30, Sinha and her husband were shocked to see the main door broken on return from Ghaziabad and cash and jewellery worth Rs 7 lakh missing. Their son's Maruti 800 was also stolen from his office in Sector 64 in August.
"Cases have been registered and remain unsolved," said Hari Mohan Singh, SHO, Sector 58.
(As told to Kapil Datta)