Dec 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape case: What’s changed, what hasn’t in 7 years
Seven years ago, authorities promised a slew of measures, including better and safer public transport, well-lit roads, establishing more fast-track courts for speedy trials, and reinforcing of the police force. HT takes a look at what has changed and what remains to be done.Updated: Dec 16, 2019 06:18 IST
Seven years have passed since that fateful December evening when a 23-year-old paramedical student was gang-raped and thrown out from a moving bus in south Delhi. The incident triggered nationwide protests and changes in laws related to crimes against women. The case highlighted several lacunae in issues of policing, governance, and facets that make a city safer for women.
Seven years ago, authorities promised a slew of measures, including better and safer public transport, well-lit roads, establishing more fast-track courts for speedy trials, and reinforcing of the police force. HT takes a look at what has changed and what remains to be done.
Four things that have changed
The electronic surveillance cover across the capital has not only increased, but has advanced in technological terms over the past seven years. The Delhi government’s project of installing 2.8 lakh CCTVs in two phases is on track. The first phase, in which 1.4 lakh cameras had to be installed, is almost over. Under the ambitious project, 4,000 CCTVs will be installed in every assembly constituency. The cameras provide high-resolution live feed. For every four cameras, there is a utility box with an NVR (network video recorder), a Wi-Fi router, a UPS for hour-long power back-up, and a SIM card to locate the cameras and for network connectivity. A control room for the same is under construction at the public works department’s headquarters. The Delhi government and Delhi Police have said installing such CCTV cameras would reduce crimes.
Marshalls in state run buses
The security of women while in transit had emerged as a huge concern following the December 16 incident, and authorities had promised marshals would be deployed on state-run buses. While a few were deployed for some time on night buses, the promise mostly remained on paper. When the Delhi government launched free bus rides for women in all its buses in October, it was the first time, marshals (both men and women, who are essentially civil defence volunteers) were deployed. Currently, 12,895 marshals are deployed across the city’s 5,558-strong bus fleet. Most passengers HT spoke to said they felt reassured while taking a bus, in the evenings in particular. Sudha Sikka, who lives in Rohini, said, “While the experience of taking a bus does feel much safer now, many of us also feel the marshals must be given some kind of weapon to be able to counter an untoward situation.”
Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research (CSR), said, “The presence of marshals is one step that has certainly made women feel safer while on a bus. However, it remains to be seen if these measures are implemented well and in a complete manner.”
While there are still large gaps in providing last-mile connectivity with even the Delhi Metro, which has expanded its reach even to far-flung rural areas, battery-run rickshaws come to one’s rescue at most times. Many women who travel on the Metro said it should increase the strength of its feeder bus service. “There are only a handful of buses, which too run packed during peak hours. It is a reliable form of public transport, but is too limited,” said Devanshi Raj, a student of Delhi University, who usually takes the feeder bus from Shastri Park Metro station.
Many women also said that though battery rickshaws are available at most Metro stations, they only cover an area of 1.5 to 2km. “There is no reliable option to take you home when it’s late, or if long distance has to be travelled,” said Shikha Singh, a Rohini resident.
More women coming forward
In 2011, there were 572 reported rape cases in the national capital. The number of reported cases have increased almost four times since then. There were 2,135 rape cases reported in the city last year. While the number of rape cases have only grown, the Delhi Police claimed this is only because more women feel empowered to come out and report incidents. The gender sensitisation of police personnel since 2012 has changed things to an extent, with more women feeling encouraged to walk into a police station.
Three things that have not changed
In a city infamous for its crimes against women, while there has been a four-fold increase in the number of reported rape cases, the number of new police personnel added to the force has been a little less above 13,000. In 2011, the city police had around 67,000 personnel, and current strength of the Delhi Police force is around 80,000. There are only 9,793 women officers, of which the number of women sub-inspectors eligible to investigate rape cases is a mere 928.
The fast-track courts in Delhi are still working on an ad-hoc basis. It was only this year that the Delhi government sanctioned for 18 permanent fast-track courts.
Advocate Sumit Chander, who had filed a petition on the issue, said, “It is only now that a sanction has been given and appointments of staff are in process. The fast-track courts were son far lying defunct, as for any such court to be functional, permanent judges and other court staff is required.”
Streetlight and blind spots
The promise to lit up every dark area — an unlit place that is vulnerable for crime — is a plan that is still taking place in silos. The Delhi Police last year identified 187 dark spots across the city, and a has been sent out to all the road-owning and civic agencies for corrective action. “The problem is that because multiple agencies are involved in the plan, it often does not yield the kind of results we are looking for. Many areas have repeated from the 2017 list, ,” a senior official said on the condition of anonymity.