We deserve responsible policing and safe cities- Jan 13, 2012

It’s Friday, the 13th and I’m not scared of the friends from the world beyond, but the weirdos from our own planet! Two stories reported by friends this week outline the precariously dangerous lives we lead in the urban environs of Delhi. One woman friend’s car was stopped by motorcyclists, who threatened and verbally abused her in a state of inebriation. Only her crisis management skills got her out of that situation safely. Another friend told me about a gory incident in which guys in an auto teased a woman two-wheelerist. They then lodged a stick on the handle of her scooty, bringing it down and dragging her on the tarmac. No one stopped to help and the girl needs cosmetic surgery and is nursing a broken jaw as well!

Stuff like this is a nightmare; we all (and its not only women, I know men friends who have faced worse) hope to God we aren’t involved in any such situation. We can talk endlessly about why these things are happening. In my view, these are clear fallouts of rapid, unplanned urbanization; the clash of conflicting cultures and lifestyles and above all, a large young, unemployed, direction-less population.

The problem is no one is addressing these issues. These situations need a two-fold response; swift disciplinary action by the police and a parallel awareness and outreach campaign that goes out to urban villages, low-income settlements, RWAs and even corporate organizations in the city.

The outreach should:

1- clearly outline what is wrong

2- publicize a zero-tolerance policy

3- set up a complaint/counseling cell & encourage people to approach it

4- hold workshops to sensitize people about what to do in such a situation, and to talk about their experiences openly

However, all of this will only stand good if there is a committed backing from the police force and political class. The Gurgaon police however, in a recent interview, blamed the deteriorating crime scenario on “migrants” and that seriously confused me! The large majority of Gurgaon’s population would come under this banner, rich and poor, illiterate and super-educated alike! It’s easy to target the poor (and I mean economically impoverished) Bengali and Bihari migrants, but who disciplines the moneyed, lawless testosterone-charged local youths who brandish desi guns and strut around like they still own the land the rest of us live on? Doesn’t law apply to everyone? And since the city is one of the highest tax generating areas in the country, what right does the police have to differentiate between locals and migrants, given many of us migrants pay taxes here? Whatever protection we need, we are entitled to it, right?

I know this sounds like a rant….my apologies. I also know that the perception of crime can be vastly greater than the reality. However, when the authorities make excuses instead of coming down hard on goons, it doesn’t instill much confidence in citizens. Living in gated communities and stepping into a lawless hell outside your gates doesn’t make for sensible living. We all need to work harder and make more noise for those in power to understand, recognize and act on this!

 

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5 thoughts on “We deserve responsible policing and safe cities- Jan 13, 2012

  1. I think that policing would greatly improve if it were brought under the purview of city governance. Right now its under the state’s jurisdiction and therefore mostly indifferent to responding to localized nuances. We need to restructure city governance first. Tinyurl.com/citymanagementconcept

  2. I think males right from a young age,from schools have to be sensitivetised about the female gender.
    It should be a continous on going process even to the workplace.
    The”beta” you cannot do any wrong should be stopped.
    2)The Police,well they have many issues,lack of manpower,poor training,lack of equipment,heavy political interference.Lots needs to be done on this front,their Reforms has been pending post 1994 the famous N.N.Vohra Report..
    3)The Courts need to be fast tracked especially on Gender crimes and punishment must be stiff to send the right message at all levels.

    • the police here refuse to admit they are short on resources and manpower; i don’t understand the thinking about stopping migrants from entering. First, its impossible, second, they’re coming because your city is creating magnets to call them in….how disjoint can things be?

  3. Oh God! that’s terrible beyond words.. the second incident.
    Can you tell me what crisis management skills your friend applied in the first situation? I faced it once with my son in the car, and I was clueless about what to do. We were robbed.

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