Precisely a year ago, the city we live in changed forever.
The horrible gang rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus not only forced the government to enact new and tougher laws to deal with cases of crime against women, it simultaneously gave the police enough reasons for introspection.
An emphasis on enhanced deployment was laid, a special commissioner-level officer was appointed solely to deal with women’s issues and a plan to secure more than 200 routes ‘frequented by women’ was chalked out by the Delhi Police. But issues still remain.
A year later, most of these initiatives are struggling to cope with the sheer number of complaints regarding crimes of varying degrees against the women.
The most significant step was the creation of women’s help desk across local police stations in Delhi. The police argued this was the best they could do given the fact that less than one-third of their sanctioned strength of a little over 80,000 personnel consisted of women.
“These help desks, which functioned only during the day initially, are now manned by female personnel around the clock,” said a senior police officer.
In a handful of cases reported since their inception, however, the very same desks have been found to be unmanned or, worse, being occupied by ‘uninterested’ female police personnel who treat complaints on a ‘routine’ basis.
“We are in a phase of transition. Of course some lacunae do exist but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fixed in time,” argued another officer.
Infamous for ‘burking’ - not registering cases when required to keep crime statistics down — the senior police officials responded with a no-tolerance policy.
Strict orders were issued that all criminal complaints be converted into cases well before a Supreme Court judgement in this regard was delivered. Figures pertaining to crime against women and children, as a result, went through the roof.
“A sea change was seen when it comes to crime statistics,” said an officer. “That more and more cases were being registered has now been accepted as a positive step instead of a negative one.”
Complaints made by women are now being recorded verbatim and preferably by a female police officer. Unfortunately, however, figures pertaining to other crimes such as theft and burglary are now bearing the brunt with the local police personnel trying to keep such cases as low as possible through coercion.
“Not just physical presence and visibility, we have made other attempts to reach out to female complainants. Over the last year, the lines to our emergency response number ‘100’ have been increased from 60 to 100 while those for the women’s helpline number ‘1091’ have increased from 4 to 10,” the officer added.