Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit came out strongly in support of the Delhi Police during a short duration discussion on “law and order” in the Delhi Assembly on Monday and appealed to all concerned to work towards removing the “atmosphere of insecurity'' that exists.

Ms. Dikshit, whose appeal appeared to be in contradiction of her assertion that people feel safe in the city even at night, said though some people have coined the term “crime Capital'' for Delhi, a recent survey by the Confederation of Indian Industry had stated that it was the “safest city in the country to live in''.

“There is no reason to doubt this survey as it was not motivated,'' she added.

Seeing the nearly 5 lakh per annum growth in Delhi's population as a major reason for the rising crime graph, Ms. Dikshit said on top of this people from the satellite townships in the National Capital Region also come to Delhi in large numbers every day. “The prosperity and happiness attracts them,'' she said, adding that “when population density goes up so does tension as there is paucity of space''.

Assuring that the Delhi Government and the Union Home Ministry are not sleeping, she said they have prepared a plan to increase police manpower, stations, training and deployment of Central Reserve Police Force to meet Delhi's needs.

“The number of Police Control Room vans has increased to 614 and as many as 610 motorcycles have been introduced for the traffic department. The MHA is doing its bit and CCTVs and new traffic lights are being installed. But still there are only 83,000 police personnel and about 17,500 CISF personnel here for about 1.6 crore population,'' she said.

“With the Commonwealth Games coming up, nothing is being left to chance with the security,'' she added.

Ms. Dikshit said it was laudable that the Delhi Police had not allowed any terrorist activity to take place in the city over the past two years. However, she said, the police need to look into the conduct of those officials who do not work properly or listen to the authorities.

Earlier, initiating the discussion, senior BJP leader Jagdish Mukhi said there has been a 20 per cent increase in crime in the first six month of 2010 in comparison to the same period in the previous year. “And this is only the registered crime. Even in snatching cases, the MLA has to call up the police to get the cases registered,'' he charged.

Prof. Mukhi also lamented that women are not safe in Delhi and crime against them has risen.

He said when even the car of a Member of Parliament gets robbed, it shows things are not right.

He made a pitch for Statehood for Delhi stating that some powers of the police should vest with the Delhi Government. Urging Ms. Dikshit to act in the matter, he said: “We will come with you for this.''

The BJP leader also demanded that corruption in the police be checked as “now criminals are not afraid of the police, but ordinary citizens are.''

Deterioration

Another BJP MLA, Subhash Sachdeva, accused the Centre of framing laws that were leading to deterioration in the law and order situation. “The age of juveniles has been increased from 16 years to 18 years and so now most of the gangs use children to commit crimes. A number of child gangs are also operational. Besides, the proposed law to allow police bail for all crimes that carry punishment for up to seven years would only lead to an increase in crime,'' he cautioned.

Mukesh Sharma of the Congress too asserted that over 80 per cent of the crime was being committed by children up to 18 years of age. “When the age for identifying child labour is 14 years, why is there a different yardstick for juveniles?” he asked.

More In: Delhi