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Crime feasts on life as darkness prevails

india Updated: May 27, 2013 03:46 IST
Highlight Story

A-dark-stretch-near-the-shopping-malls-in-Gurgaon-Arijit-Sen-HT

As the last of the visitors at Kingdom of Dreams in Sector 29 head home, an eerie silence descends on the streets. In a short while, the bright light emanating from the glittering hotels also begins to ebb out, plunging the area in complete darkness.

Sector 29, which has been dubbed as a leisure seekers' paradise, a tourist hub, home to Gurgaon's showcase Kingdom of Dreams, is now the zone of muggers, robbers and potential molesters - thanks to absence of streetlights.

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The sector, which is visited by the high-and-mighty of the city, tops the charts when it comes to snatching cases. And it's not an isolated case. Thanks to official inaptitude, many busy stretches and crossings in the city turn into crime zones post sundown.

The comparative data for the crime reported at Sector 29, Sector 40, Sector 56, DLF City Phase 1 and Palam Vihar police stations is characteristic of the darkness they host. Vehicle theft, carjacking, snatching, burglary and violence -- all are on the rise in these jurisdictions.

"There is an integral relationship between darkness and willingness to commit crime. Darkness tends to grant the cloak of anonymity to the perpetrator of the crime," says Pavan Duggal, a Supreme Court lawyer.

Sector 56 Extension Road, used by those living in the high-rises of sectors 55, 56 and 57, looks like an image straight out of a horror movie after the Cinderella Hour. Golf Course Road - which connects MG Road and the posh localities of DLF 1, 4 and 5 - assumes an eerie countenance the moment sun sets. Same is the case with Artemis Road that connects Wazirabad and Sector 57. The list is only indicative and not exhaustive at all.

When contacted, Huda executive engineer Arun Dhankhar said, "The streetlights have been dysfunctional due to the storm that hit Gurgaon a few days ago. We recently installed new lights at DLF 1 and there is no lighting problem there."

At a high-level meeting held in the wake of the Delhi gang-rape last year, Gurgaon officials had resolved to fix all the dysfunctional lights in the city. However, when an HT team ventured forth on city roads, it was awash with the black of night that was broken infrequently by vehicle headlights. Dark zones in Gurgaon

"Lights are powered erratically. Sometimes they are switched on, but mostly they are not. It becomes really difficult for people like me who commute by bicycle. I may be mugged or just be crushed by some vehicle and no one would know," Ajit Kumar, who works at American Express, told HT during a brief chat in the dead of night at DLF 1 Road. Recent incidents

Ajit Pan, who runs a cigarette vend at Sector 56 road, said, "We are constantly under the threat of gangs that have come up in the nearby villages. They just come and loot us at will under the cover of darkness."

Speaking to HT recently, police commissioner Alok Mittal had said the police department had taken up the issue with municipal authorities, but no good seems to have come out of it.

Joint commissioner of police Maheshwar Dayal said shortage of police personnel coupled with extensive dark stretches in the city was hampering law enforcement.

"Darkness accentuates the propensity to commit a crime as the fear of identification is greatly reduced. Also, the victim loses confidence under the fear of the unknown, while the perpetrator grows bolder. The absence of public transport also exacerbates such situations," said professor Ashum Gupta, head of psychology department, Delhi University.

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