Mean streets: on street crime in Delhi

Photo for representation

Photo for representation   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Every day this year, the Capital has witnessed 24 snatching or robbery cases on average. The fear of the unknown stalks city roads even as police claim a downtick in street crime

Trigger-happy criminals on motorbikes targeting unassuming pedestrians for their cell phones, gold chains or other valuables — and even shooting them if need be — have become a major headache for the city police.


According to the Delhi police records, till June 15 this year, 18 cases of snatching and six cases of robberies were reported every day across the city.

Rakshita Jasra, a college student, said Delhi is not a safe place to live, especially for women. “Though I have not encountered any such incident, many around me have been victims of street crime. From what I have observed around me, I see the police not working efficiently, though I believe generalisation is not fair,” said Ms. Jasra.

Less juvenile crimes

Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik, however, said the city has witnessed a continuous downward trend in cases of robbery and snatching because of the persistent efforts of the police to prevent such crimes.

“In Delhi, the challenge is that 95% of snatchers are first-timers. We have made strategies and implemented them to further bring down the cases of street crime,” said Mr. Patnaik.

He added that because of efforts like YUVA, a skilling initiative which has been successful in providing gainful employment to youth from slums and JJ clusters who are prone to criminal activities, this year the Delhi police have been successful in reducing the number of crimes committed by juveniles as compared to previous years.

“We keep tabs on bad characters, proclaimed offenders, history-sheeters, criminals out of jail on parole or bail. It is being done regularly to deter such elements from executing criminal activities,” said Madhur Verma, DCP (New Delhi) and Delhi Police PRO.

‘Non-bailable offence’

Suggesting ways to curb street crime, a police officer said that snatching should be made a non-bailable offence, like it has been done in Haryana. Persons booked under IPC Section 356 (criminal force in attempt to commit theft of property carried out by a person) come out on bail within two weeks and again target people on the road, he said.

Anjali Dhariwal, another college student, said she has to be extra alert whenever she is travelling alone, especially at night. “Visibility of police does increase a sense of security in me,” said Ms. Dhariwal.

Mr. Verma said that prevention of crime, particularly street offences, remain one of the top priorities of Delhi police in 2019. They are focusing on the pattern of crime and detention of criminals.

According to the Delhi police data, in comparison to 2016, seizure of illegal arms has gone up by 200% and use of firearms in heinous crimes has reduced by 20% in 2019 (till June 15).

“For extensive surveillance on criminal activities, we have reorganised beat structures of policemen; kept regular watch on known and budding criminals; stepped up jail release monitoring and integrated patrolling with traffic police and PCR,” said Mr. Verma.

He added that they regularly do analysis of crime, crime mapping, identification of dark spots, vehicular checking and many other things to ensure police visibility on the roads.

The measures, however, have not brought much relief to the victims of street crime.

Raghav Batish, a college student, said, “My cell phone was stolen on New Year’s Eve in the busy Saket market between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. I reported it to the police and an FIR was lodged. I was told that action would be taken but nothing has happened.”

The officer said the police are in the process of inducting modern technology to aid the investigating officers and increase conviction rate in order to create deterrence against crimes.

(With inputs from Saurav Sinha)

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:16:38 AM |

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