Amid the glitz and high-flying life of Gurgaon, there's a strong undercurrent of fear and insecurity -- the fear of being mugged, molested, raped, stalked or kidnapped. A fear conveyed by most Gurgaon residents in a Hindustan Times-C fore survey conducted recently.
"I do not feel comfortable. I have been teased, stalked, commented at, but life has to go on," said Shradha Madan, a BPO worker who stays in Sector 56.
Shradha's concerns are not unfounded. Seventy-eight per cent respondents in the HT survey said they did not feel safe going out at night in Gurgaon.
Eighty-four per cent women said they had been harassed or faced lewd comments at least a few times. When asked if police presence after dark was sufficient in Gurgaon, 64 per cent people replied in the negative.
Police records corroborate the feeling of insecurity. Around 50 rape cases were reported in both 2011 and 2012. Also, 156 and 131 cases of snatchings, mostly targeting women, were reported respectively in the two years.
Burglaries that hit the elderly the most have been consistently hovering around the 500 figure over the past few years. Also, 85 and 80 murders were reported in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Police commissioner Alok Mittal said that the police department was suffering from a strength crunch and efforts were on to replenish the deficiency.
There are 23 police stations, 4,000 cops - including 400 women police personnel -- and a fleet of 55 PCR vans and 55 riders for Gurgaon's population of 16 lakh.
If one compares the population-police ratio with Delhi, the national capital has one police personnel for every 224 citizens. In contrast, Gurgaon has a ratio of 500:1.
On the lack of faith in the police, Mittal said: "The adverse perception of the police force is not new and will not be assuaged overnight."
Experimenting with a new model, and to plug the gaps, the police have decided to take up community policing in a big way.
"Our efforts to engage the local community in policing efforts have brought good results. At least in the sphere of regulating traffic, people have come up to assist us and we are doing well," said police commissioner Alok Mittal.