Panic strikes Noida after spate of attacks
A sense of panic has spread among the people of this satellite town bordering Delhi after the spate of lootings and shooting by trigger-happy criminals that left a woman dead and a retired army officer seriously injured.
Residents allege there is negligible police patrolling at night.
"We hardly see police teams patrolling the roads, especially after dark," said Rajender Phauja, 47, a businessman who moved with his family from Delhi to Sector-34 of Noida last year.
He was commenting on the wanton killing of a former airhostess late on Tuesday night, the gun shot injuries a retired Lt-Gen of the army received when resisting an attempt to rob him of his car, and three other lootings by gun-wielding men, all after dark.
"What kind of police is this, if it can't prevent five incidents of robbery and assault in one night? Every day we hear that someone has been killed, or shot at or robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight. We don't feel secure any more here," Phauja told IANS.
Sharmila Mathew, a housewife, complained: " The police are the biggest threat. They harass people for no reason. It seems that they have given full liberty to criminals to attack innocent people on the roads."
The shooting incidents have just highlighted the dangerous conditions they are living in, said Tejendir Singh, another resident.
According to statistics available with the Noida police, 252 cases of vehicle thefts were registered between Jan 1 to March 31 against 153 cases during the same period last year.
Other cases of thefts were a notch lower at 124 compared to 153 last year, while murder cases rose to 15 from 11. Compared to two dowry deaths last year, there were seven during the same period this year, while the number of rape cases were the same at four.
"People are in panic due to the rising number of crimes in the city. Everyone fears to go out at night, and even in the day-time they prefer to remain indoors," Singh added.
Like Phauja and Singh, thousands of people from Delhi and other cities moved to this booming satellite town due to its flourishing industries and massive infrastructure that also lured major IT and foreign companies to set up shop.
Over the past few years, the city, located around 15 km from Delhi's busy Connaught Place, has witnessed growth in every sector with funds flowing in from both the government and private sector.
Rashmi Gupta, a call centre employee who works in Noida, said: "We fear for our lives while returning from our Noida office late in the evening, irrespective of the fact that we are travelling in our office car."
"Though no place is safe, we feel relieved when we enter Delhi."
The police in Noida said they were launching a drive against criminals, especially at night, and would step up night patrolling.
They, however, said the poor law and order was due to criminals coming from surrounding areas.
"Criminals strike in Noida and flee to towns like Ghaziabad, Hapur and Meerut, where it is not easy to nab them. A coordinated effort among other districts has become necessary to control the situation," said a senior official, requesting anonymity.