… Or is it the increasing aggression in society that has led to the rise in incidents of road rage? Devesh K. Pandey tries to find the answer

The spate of murders, robberies and road rage incidents in and around the Capital over the past few days have left people wondering where society is headed. With gun-wielding criminals on the prowl, violence on the city roads has become commonplace.

The Paschim Vihar incident in which a shopkeeper was stabbed and robbed of his car by four young men earlier this week is a grim reminder of how dangerous the Capital’s roads have become. While two back-to-back cases of road rage were reported from different parts of the city, the daylight murder of a businessman on a busy Kalkaji road came as a huge shock to everyone.

The gruesome murder of a young woman and the series of robberies in neighbouring Noida earlier this week are equally perturbing, indicating that the law and order situation in the National Capital Region is fast deteriorating beyond control. While some police officers tend to brush aside the sudden spurt in criminal activities as a mere coincidence, others feel that the fear of “khaki” among the people is on the wane.

Pointing out that there is a marked difference between crimes committed by habitual criminals and those by “normal” people, a senior police officer said the cases reported in Noida essentially come under the first category. “The incidents of road rage, which come under the second category, point to increasing aggression in society. Due to various factors like a stressful lifestyle, the general level of intolerance among the public has gone up considerably and this gets reflected in their day-to-day behaviour,” the officer said.

According to mental health expert Rajat Mitra, it is detachment from society that has resulted in the culture of violence, mostly among young men. “Social detachment is directly linked to violence. While earlier there was a higher level of bonding in society, people today treat others as inanimate objects. They no more identify themselves with the others,” said Dr. Mitra.

Many police officers feel there is need for a pro-active approach to contain crimes of both natures. To check crimes by habitual offenders, the policemen should be made to realise the importance of developing local intelligence. To hone their arbitration skills, they should be imparted training more professionally. In this context, implementation of the “Alternate Complaint Redress System”, on the lines of the old “panchayat” system of conflict resolution, to tackle non-cognisable offences is a significant endeavour. This would in due course help revive the tools of societal pressures that once acted as a preventive mechanism.