A Laxmi Nagar-based vendor of surveillance systems, roped in by East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir to put up CCTVs, has decided not to go ahead with the installation, locations for which were “chosen by the Delhi Police”.
Surjit Singh, owner of Hawkeye Systems which runs out of a two-room facility near Laxmi Nagar Metro station, said the “voluntary initiative” was discontinued after installing three CCTVs in Kondli.
On June 22, Gambhir tweeted that for the safety of women and crime control, he has started installing CCTVs in East Delhi. He had also taken a jibe at Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, saying one camera was focused on the “false promises” of the AAP chief.
His announcement came against the backdrop of the Delhi government’s ongoing CCTV project, under which 2,000 cameras are being installed in all 70 assembly constituencies.
The former Indian cricketer did not elaborate on the scale of the installation, the agencies involved or the financial aspects. Later, he tweeted that the project was a voluntary gesture by Hawkeye Systems “after I had requested them”.
On Monday, The Indian Express visited the office of Hawkeye Systems, in the business of selling and installing CCTVs and biometric systems. Singh, the owner, said he was taken aback by the controversy that his initiative out of “good faith” has generated, and he has decided to not go ahead with it.
Singh said the plan was to install 50 analog cameras, equipped with Digital Video Recorders (DVR). “We did not have much clarity on who will handle the footage but it was informally decided that the footage would be erased every 10 days. The installation spots were based on a list given to Gambhir by the East Delhi DCP. In any case, it was a matter of 50 CCTVs, which is nothing for a Lok Sabha constituency. Now I don’t want to go ahead with the initiative considering there is so much politics around it,” Singh said.
The Delhi government’s CCTV project has also come under criticism from groups advocating privacy and digital rights for not having adequate safeguards against misuse or a proper Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). The SOP prepared by a committee formed by Lt Governor Anil Baijal was never acknowledged by the elected government. Meanwhile, Singh maintained he had no association with any political party. “I offered to install CCTVs as I liked the youthful energy that Gambhir brought as an MP.
Tomorrow, if any AAP MLA requests me to install CCTVs, I will do that as well,” Singh said.
Gaurav Arora, who handles media relations for Gambhir, said the BJP leader held talks with senior police officials and based on their suggestions, the spots were identified.“Hawkeye contacted us and said they want to install CCTVs to make the area more secure. We agreed as we want to make the area safe and secure for people,” he said.
DCP (east) Jasmeet Singh said Gambhir’s team approached police seeking a list of dark stretches. Later, a person from Hawkeye met them. “We had shared a list of such stretches. The company that approached us said they will be installing CCTVs under their CSR initiative,” the officer said.