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Jungle raj in Delhi

Eight people have died in street shootings over the last seven days in Delhi, in what is being described as a major spike in crimes, reports Vijaita Singh.
By Vijaita Singh | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 15, 2008 12:30 AM IST

Four motorcycle-borne men went on a shooting spree last weekend, killing three people and injuring two. More worrisome for the city, however, was the utter lawlessness on the streets laid bare by the shootings.

Eight people have died in street shootings over the last seven days in Delhi, in what is being described as a major spike in crimes. Street shootings are generally taken as proof of lawlessness more than other crimes.

Sources said the last one week witnessed some 50 rounds of firing, with criminals using expensive foreign-made firearms.

The motorcycle killers struck over two days. They shot two men in Amar Colony and a third near Andrews Ganj on Friday, and returned the next day to shoot at and injure two people in Ambedkar Nagar.

Angry friends and relatives of the Ambedkar Nagar victims shut down the busy BRT corridor for two hours in protest on Monday. There was a similar protest on Vikas Marg in East Delhi after a shooting last week.

“It is the lack of fear of the police, said former Delhi Police commissioner Ajai Raj Sharma, adding, “police are not strict enough, and are not keeping an eye on the activities of criminals.”

The cops hit back with a predictable tactic on Monday, putting as many boots on the ground as they could to show who was in charge in India’s national capital.

Monday morning office-goers were stuck for hours at a jungle of barricades that held up the city, each manned by a small army of personnel in khaki. The traffic jams were massive, and everywhere.

In the beginning, as people wondered what exactly was going on, police at some places like Sarai Kale Khan blamed flooding caused by overnight rain for the jams. But it didn’t cut much ice. “I saw no flooding anywhere,” said a New Friends Colony resident, who did not want to be identified.

The Delhi Police spokesperson later confirmed the reason for the barricading: “These barricades have been erected to keep a tab on criminals. We appeal to the people to bear with us,” spokesperson Rajan Bhagat said.

But boots on the ground may not be enough. The killers of Friday remain at large, and violent street crime has seen a definite spike recently. Former top cop Sharma said: “The need of the hour is developing criminal intelligence and mounting surveillance.”

Former senior police officer Amod Kanth said: “To prevent such incidents, people must be taken into confidence.”

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