On the night of December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old paramedic student was brutally gangraped by four men and a juvenile in a chartered bus she had boarded in South Delhi. The case shook the nation as the degree of brutality the woman was subjected to was unheard of.
Two years on, this December 6, a 26-year-old woman took an Uber taxi at night. Instead of driving her home, the driver took her to an unlit stretch in North Delhi and allegedly raped her.
The December 16 incident had acted as a catalyst for some very elementary yet much-needed changes in the system.
Laws were amended and women security schemes initiated. Two years on, several projects remain on paper. The authorities have nothing concrete to show on the ground. Several initiatives have, in fact, failed. The focus was on chartered buses after 16/12, now it has shifted to radio taxis. Newsline takes stock of the projects initiated after 16/12 and where they stand today.
The Rs 356-crore project was started in 2010 to bring the capital under CCTV surveillance. The project picked up pace after the December 16 incident, but has lost steam since. Under Phase I, 26 marketplaces and five border checkposts were brought under CCTV coverage. Phase II included 34 markets and 10 border checkposts. Work was to be completed by April 2013, but was completed only in January 2014. Phase III included 27 checkposts and 58 marketplaces and malls. Scheduled to be completed by May 2013, work was completed only this month.
The next phase will cover district courts, diplomatic areas and other sensitive zones. Phase V will bring 475 more locations under surveillance. Once completed, over 12,000 CCTV cameras would be installed across Delhi. “It’s a slow process. We admit the project has been delayed. We are working on it. Of late, we have solved many cases with the help of CCTV footage. It is showing results,” a police officer said.
After 16/12, an audit was conducted by the Unified Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure (Planning and Engineering) Centre and traffic police that identified vulnerable and unsafe spots. The study found that most cases of sexual assaults happened along deserted, unwatched places such as flyovers, signal-free corridors, subways, parks, parking lots and gated communities.
A list of 1,582 dark stretches was prepared by police and sent to civic agencies concerned for providing streetlights. The project fizzled out due to lack of coordination between police and civic agencies.
“The dark spots are identified by area SHOs and PCR vans patrolling areas at night. A list is then prepared and sent to the civic agency concerned. A review is done every 24 hours at each police station,” Special Commissioner of Police (Operations) Sundari Nanda said.
“Lack of coordination with civic agencies is the biggest obstacle in implementing the project. We can keep identifying dark patches, but the task of lighting the stretch does not fall in our ambit,” a police officer said.
Linking police stations
The home ministry had chalked out a plan in 2009 to link all police stations across the country, enabling them to share important details on crimes and criminals. Had the system been in place, police would have been able to access the criminal records of Shiv Kumar Yadav, the Uber taxi driver, easily.
A pilot project was started in June 2013. Even though police claim the software is in the testing stage and it should be implemented by next month, they are way past the deadline. Once completed, the Crime and Criminal Tracking Networking System (CCTNS) will bring together the data maintained individually by each police station. This will allow police from any part of the country to access the history sheet of a criminal. The project will cost Rs 50 crore just for Delhi.
Fast registration of cases
After the December 16 gangrape case, police stressed on quick registration of cases, without arguing over jurisdiction. Cases related to women were registered at once and enquiries made later. In 2011, 448 rape cases were registered. In 2013, the number increased to 636. “Zero FIRs that were never registered were also registered,” an officer said.
Predominantly women-staffed police stations and a women helpdesk in every police station was ordered after the December 16 incident. All 181 police stations now have a functional women’s police desk manned by a woman sub-inspector and ASI. “Women now feel confident to walk into a police station and speak to the staff at the women helpdesk,” the officer said.
There are five helplines that cater to women — Chief Minister’s Helpline (181), Women’s Helpline (1091), Anti-stalking and Obscenity Helpline (1096), Northeast Helpline (1093) and Police Control Room (100) — received 68,462 calls this year (figures till November). Police said they receive around 1,600 calls per day from women, which included actionable calls (rape and molestation) and calls for counselling.