The failure of law enforcement agencies to provide security to women and other residents has forced many housing societies and RWAs to fend for themselves. But this comes with a huge price.
Major housing societies such as Orange County, Krishna Apra and Gaur Green (each with more than 700 flats) shell out anything between Rs 7 and Rs 9 lakh a month to put in place an effective security setup. Even small colonies with 150 flats have to spend about Rs 1.5 lakh.
Most of these colonies have deployed an army of private guards and installed CCTV cameras on their premises to ensure round-the-clock security. Moreover, even individuals have put in place security cameras around their flats.
"Police presence should be felt in the area. After sundown, anti-social elements indulge in drinking in open areas and outside roadside eateries which are mushrooming at a rapid pace. Criminal cases are on the rise. There is a threat from unverified workers as majority of them are employed as domestic helps, plumbers and mechanics. Women don't feel safe," said Divya Khanna, an Indirapuram resident.
The district police department has been facing staff shortage. There are just 30 PCR vans and 57 bikes to take care of the entire city. Ghaziabad being a highly crime-prone area, the lion's share of the workforce in the police deals with criminal gangs.
Anonymity is a major cover for criminals. According to administration officials, Ghaziabad has a floating population of about six lakh. Many gangs commit crimes in the city and flee to neighbouring districts.
However, all these expensive paraphernalia may not guarantee fool-proof security. At least this is the experience of Minakshi Jain, a resident of a posh Indirapuram colony. Although she managed to foil a murderous attack by a robber, the horrific incident continues to haunt her.
According to Jain, a young man barged into her flat on the pretext of delivering a packet. "The guard room intercom was out of order, so I opened the gate. He forced his way in and held me hostage. I slashed his hand when my 12-year-old daughter pushed him. He fled the spot but was later nabbed," Jain said. The robber had also carried an acid bottle, a rope and wire in his bag which he left behind. Jain said the man had earlier approached her husband for a job as a driver.
Anubha Bankura, who used to stay at Windsor Park in Indirpauram, had also fallen prey to a group of assailants in October 2011. She also got her leg fractured in the incident. The security guards remained mute spectators as the three attackers were armed with a pistol.
"I fought for about two minutes but they pointed a gun at me and fled. Security is a major concern for women here. Such incidents are common in residential areas and outside. Women can't wear gold," she said.
HT team, which undertook a reality check in trans-Hindon areas, found that there are vast stretches of unlit areas. For instance, the stretch connecting Vasundhara Sector 2 to Indirapuram is pitch dark during nights, thanks to defunct streetlights. Danger lurks in dark stretches behind Vasundhara (near canal area), near Judge Colony in Vaishali, internal roads going from Vaishali Metro Station to residential areas of Vaishali.
Senior municipal corporation officials admitted that 30% streetlights are faulty. During the visit, the team could spot only one PCR van.