Murder, rape, thefts and 800 FIRs: Inside Mangolpuri, Delhi’s ‘most unsafe’ place
Mangolpuri police station consistently registers most cases in Delhi. This year, the police station has already recorded over 800 criminal cases. In contrast, Defence Colony in south Delhi has registered only around 125 cases. Tughlaq Road in New Delhi, has fewer than 90 cases .Updated: Oct 08, 2018, 11:52 IST
One murder, one rape, 15 vehicle thefts, six snatching cases, three house break-ins, and two cases of assault — all in the course of one week. Welcome to Mangolpuri, home to approximately 900,000 people, and the most unsafe place in the national Capital.
If Delhi holds the dubious moniker of “the crime capital of India”, then Mangolpuri — which sees the most number of FIRs, according to official data — will have to shoulder a lot of the blame.
Hindustan Times correspondent Prawesh Lama spent a week (September18-25) chronicling the crimes reported at the Mangolpuri police station.
In that single week, there was a murder, a rape, 15 cases of vehicle thefts, six of snatching, three of house break-ins and two of men being beaten by a gang of “rowdies”.
These are just the incidents in which police cases were registered. The distress calls received by the police were a lot more than — over 600; most of them related to drunken brawls, martial fights.
Sample the events of September 25: At 5pm, a man reported the theft of his scooter from outside the Sanjay Gandhi Hospital.
Two hours later, the police were informed about the theft of an e-rickshaw.
Half an hour later, around 7.30pm, a man informed the police that the windowpanes of his car were broken and articles kept inside the car stolen.
At 8pm, three men who were gambling in a park were arrested.
Another e-rickshaw was stolen at 9pm.
The evening ended with the murder of a 17-year-old boy — he was stabbed to death. Case records show the boy, too, had a history of crime.
“In this part of the city, even minors have crime records. The teenager who was killed was involved in crimes. He was stabbed his by own knife. Imagine, at 17, he carried a knife on him. His knife fell during the scuffle and his assaulters used that to take his life,” a police officer said.
Every year, a team of officers collate crime data from each police station across the city. Mangolpuri usually tops the list. The local police station registers over 10 to 15 times the number of cases registered by police stations in the south and New Delhi districts.
This year, Mangolpuri has already recorded over 800 criminal cases. In contrast, Defence Colony in south Delhi has registered only around 125 cases. Tughlaq Road in New Delhi, one of the most secure parts of the city, has fewer than 90 cases – most of them accidents and thefts and not heinous crimes such as murder and robbery.
“The phones keep ringing off the hook here. During weekends, we receive about 100 to 150 distress calls on police helpline number (100),” a constable, who requested not to be named, said.
“Weekends are the busiest. We have to rush victims to hospital, settle fights between couples, deal with harassment complaints. Sometimes, we have to work in shifts. Usually, people spend festivals with their families, but, for us, that is not the case. During festivals such as Holi and Diwali, the volume of distress calls climb to about 220-250,” the constable said.
Every police station has a list of persons, who have what is known in police circles as “a bad character”.
In police records, a bad character – BC – is a person who has a history of crime; one whose activities have to be monitored to ensure that there is no law and order problem in the area.
Mangolpuri has the most number of BCs. The police station has the names and records of 325 persons –each person has his own file. The 325 include murderers — some of them have multiple murders to their name— robbers, bootleggers, drug smugglers and petty criminals.
“I think this is the only police station with the highest number of BCs,” an officer said.
Police stations in other parts of the city have fewer than 20-30 bad characters. Even a police station such as the one in Sangam Vihar, which caters to a population of over 15 lakh, has only 120 bad characters.
Chanakyapuri police station, one of the most high-security areas of the city, has five bad characters.
Greed and drugs
KK Sharma, a crime reporter with a regional national daily, who has covered Mangolpuri for over two decades, says the root of every crime in these parts is gambling and liquor.
“Gambling is rampant. Residents here are mostly from the lower to the middle income group. They need money to gamble. When they do not have money, they resort to stealing, burglaries and vehicle-lifting. It is the greed to make more money that makes them gamble,” Sharma said.
During the seven days that HT chronicled, nine persons in three different cases were arrested for gambling. They were gambling in parks and behind community toilets. According to the police, in the first case, each gambler was promised Rs 800 for placing a bet of Rs 10.
In the second case, the stakes were Rs 80 for each rupee gambled and in the third case, it was Rs 10 for each rupee staked.
A senior police officer explains the problem. “Gamblers often fight after winning or losing a bet. We receive distress calls about people fighting. Once a gambler goes home after having lost all his money, then a fight erupts at home. He fights with his wife, siblings and other members of the family. Of the 100 distress calls that we receive each day, at least 30 are related to couples fighting or a quarrel among family members.”
The officer claims that the police have launched a crackdown on gambling and have arrested over 100 gamblers this year. In the last eight months, about 800 persons were arrested for drinking in the open and selling illicit liquor, an officer said.
HT accessed records of the Sanjay Gandhi hospital in Mangolpuri, where most cases reported at the Mangolpuri police station are referred.
Before police launch a formal investigation by registering a case, every victim is referred to the hospital, where doctors give them a physical examination.
Between September 19 and 25, at least 462 such cases involved victims who had sustained stab injuries; those who sustained injuries in fights, accidents, attempted suicides and fistfights.
When this correspondent was interviewing a nurse at the emergency ward, a man with a bloodied nose walked in. He was accompanied by his friends. The nurse asked them what had happened. The patient said he was punched. But he was too drunk to explain why he was punched.
The nurse, who did not wish to be named, said, “Every night, it is the same story here. The patients are drunk and so are the attendants. The most common cases are those of stabbing, injuries by other weapons, wives beaten by husbands, or vice versa, and a few cases of people consuming poison. We get about 50 to 60 such patients, every night.”
‘That night of murders’
Speak to any police officer about the notoriety of the area and they all would recall the night of August 29.
Around 11 pm, seven men went on a stabbing spree in Mangolpuri’s Block-I. Police say the seven men had come to the area to find their rival, a man who goes by the single name Prince, and avenge their gang member’s murder.
They could not find him and so they instead decided to stab random people at will. That night, five men, who were not remotely connected to any gang, were stabbed and three of them lost their lives.
Rajender Singh Sagar, additional deputy commissioner of police (Outer), had then told reporters that they fired shots in the air to frighten anyone who attempted to stop them. Among those caught for the three murders was a 17-year-old. The teenager told the police that he was “famous in his gang” for being the swiftest with a knife. He was the first to use the knife that night.
The past months have been bloody for Mangolpuri. Between August 5 and September 15, there were seven murders reported at the police station.
Mangolpuri MLA Rakhi Birlan said the police are hand-in-glove with the criminals. “I have written to the senior officers several times highlighting the nexus of police and criminals but they are yet to take act. There is also the liquor mafia. Drug addicts do their dealings in the open. Mangolpuri is a neglected area, when it comes to the law and order. When I meet senior officers, they say there is a shortage of staff,” she said.
Police short of hands
Almost every police personnel in Mangolpuri says he/she is overworked. The police station has a strength of about 140 personnel, which include 60 constables, 40 head constables, 25 assistant sub-inspectors, five sub-inspectors and three inspectors.
Police say the strength was about 190 until two years ago. “Compare us with the police stations in the south or the New Delhi area or even any other police station. We register the most number of cases and have to investigate them. This is apart from settling local disputes and attending to distress calls. Over and above all this, with the present strength, we are also expected to monitor 325 bad characters,” an officer said, adding that the police brass must focus on areas beyond New Delhi and the upscale parts of south Delhi.