Student stabbed to death: No marshals, CCTV cameras, how safe are Delhi buses?

The Delhi government is yet to deploy marshals in its 1,645 cluster buses in which the 17-year-old BCom student was stabbed to death; the flagship project of installing CCTV cameras in all buses is yet to take off.

delhi Updated: Nov 25, 2017 11:21 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
CCTVs,CCTV on buses,AAP government
A cluster bus parked inside Sukhdev Vihar Bus Depot in which Mohammad Anas, a 17-year-old B Com Hons student, was stabbed to death near Ashram, in New Delhi on Friday. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

The daylight murder of a student inside a crowded bus in south Delhi proves that the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) government’s poll promise of providing marshals in buses for public safety is falling flat.

Against the need of 5,425 marshals, only over 1,500 are actually deployed in Delhi’s buses. Thursday’s murder could have been averted if the city’s cluster or orange buses too had marshals deployed.

Turns out, the Delhi government has not deployed a single marshal in its cluster fleet of 1,645 buses.

“Cluster buses were never included in the government’s scheme of providing bus marshals. The transport department is yet to take a decision in this regard,” said an official of the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) Limited, which operates these buses.

The transport department, on the other hand, said there had been no order for engaging marshals in the cluster service and that only Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses were to be included in the scheme.

“As we do not have enough marshals for all buses, we deploy them on rotation. Most are deployed in the evening and late night,” explained a government official. A tender for 400 security guards-cum-marshals for 200 buses was floated in 2016, but the response was tepid.

In May 2015, three months after it won the Assembly elections, the AAP government announced that it would deploy marshals, including home guard personnel and civil defence volunteers, in all its buses.

But, two years down the line, the number of volunteers engaged in DTC buses is also falling. “This is because majority of the marshals were taken back by the Home Guard for special duty during the municipal corporation elections in April this year. Before that, there were 2,980 marshals,” a DTC official said.

Around 2,000 personnel were withdrawn during that time and they are being put back on bus duty in batches, which is taking time, the official said.

The government spends almost Rs 30 crore annually for the salaries of these personnel.

After the December 16 2012 gang rape, then chief minister Sheila Dixit had announced engaging 100 home guard personnel for its night-service buses.

CCTV cams

The government’s another flagship project of installing CCTV cameras in all its buses is also yet to take off.

In June, the Delhi cabinet, in a meeting chaired by chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, had approved the installation of CCTV cameras in 6,350 DTC and cluster buses. At present, only 5,425 buses are being run by the government.

But the transport department is yet to complete the tender for the project.

The project, estimated to cost around Rs 140 crore, will be funded by the Nirbhaya Fund of the central government. The DTC has already installed CCTV cameras in 200 buses of its fleet.

First Published: Nov 25, 2017 11:21 IST