The seven-year-old misses her best friend. Sitting on the floor between two doors, unmindful of the sweltering tar, she listens to the conversation of her elders with a straight face, trying to piece together words. By now she knows that her friend was abducted and beaten up but she can discern that there was more to it.
In the hope to get her answers this time, she pulls her mother’s duppatta, yet again, and asks, “Where is she? Why is everyone asking for her?” Her mother answers, “Nothing. I told you she got fever. She is in the hospital and would be back soon”.
The last she met her best friend was on Saturday morning when she went to pick her up for tuition. She saw her friend lying on the bed, bleeding, and her mother crying by her side.
The eight-year-girl, who was allegedly abducted when she sleeping outside her house, was assaulted and raped by a youth who also tried to throttle her to death.The girl, however, used her presence of mind and pretended to be dead. She held her breath for over two minutes till the youth presumed her to be dead and fled the spot. She then limped back to her house.
“I was told that she was not well. She has fever but I know someone beat her up because she was bleeding. Why did she not talk to me then?” she says, pushing away the mosquitoes buzzing around her face.
It has been five days she has not seen her friend and panics the moment electricity goes off. “She has not slept since she has heard of the incident. She does not eat and has also stopped going for her tuition. She does not step out to play and refuses to go to the shop nearby. God knows what she keeps thinking sitting at the door. At night, she does not let us switch off the lights and does not even take two steps to get a glass of water. The incident has shocked her,” the mother of the seven-year-old says.
“She knows that she was abducted from outside the house by a man who put his hand in her throat and even beat her up, ” the mother says.
“She had been asking about her but when she returned home, she refused to go to see her. I do not know what is going on in her head,” her mother wonders.
No one sleeps outdoors now
The phool wali gali is now forbidden for the residents of Mubarakpur village in Kirari. It is the place where the juvenile allegedly took the eight-year-old girl and raped her. With no streetlights, no police presence, none of the women, who makes bouquets and delivers there, wants to take the risk to go to the area.
“There are men sitting in these plots drinking and even doing drugs. They pass lewd comments at women. We have complained to the police about the problem but no one comes to this area. Once they even started hurling stones at a woman when all locals gathered and shooed them away. There is no police here. We are the lawmakers and the lawbreakers,” an old woman quips.
The rape has alerted other parents who now do not let their children roam around in the area. “No one sleeps outside now. If power goes off, we remain indoors. It is better to stay awake than to get abducted and raped. When we asked police to post a constable in the area so that we can sleep in peace, they told us to not sleep outside,” said a local resident.
Seven lakh people, one police station
For the population of over seven lakh people, mostly migrants, there is only one police station with 140 police personnel in Kirari.
Local Congress leader Pratyush Kanth said, “This place is a ticking time bomb. It is a huge area and acts as a safe hideout for criminals. They find it easy to settle down here and remain faceless since there is no police patrolling. A satta racket is run openly in the area and use of drugs has become rampant. There are no proper hospitals, no sanitation, no proper sewage and nothing is being done by the state.”
”There is a need to construct a police post in the area and the intelligence bureau needs to depute a DSP rank official who would comb every street of Kirari,” Kanth said.
Rituraj Govind, the Kirari MLA, agreed that there is a grave law and order problem. “The law and order situation in the are is pathetic. The population of the area is 3.5 lakh and there is only one police station in Aman Vihar. How is this acceptable? There are more than a hundred unauthorized colonies here. The literacy rate is 53%. There are a lot of improvements I want to make but the police need to cooperate,” Govind said.
Deputy commissioner of police (outer district) Vikramjit Singh said there is a proposal to open a new police station in the area.
“There is definitely a need to increase police presence. We do not have sufficient staff to cover the entire area and that is the reason that we have sent a proposal to open a new police station there. The new police station would cover half of the area and take off the load on Aman Vihar police station. It is under progress,” DCP Singh said.
In the last six months, more than 28 cases of rape, 36 cases of molestation and 98 cases of abduction have been reported from Kirari.