Delhi: a city on short fuse

One in five murders is committed within moments of an altercation

January 11, 2016 12:00 am | Updated September 22, 2016 11:39 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

The national Capital appears to be on a short fuse. One in five murders in the city is committed within moments of an altercation and is mostly unplanned.

Seventeen per cent of the 541 murders reported between January and December 15, 2015, were committed in a fit of rage, or under “sudden provocation”, as the Delhi Police calls it.

Officials associated with investigations say that most of these cases were concerned with trivial issues like a shopkeeper refusing to serve a customer in west Delhi’s Nihal Vihar or a car grazing against another on a busy road in central Delhi’s Turkman Gate.

“These murders took place within seconds.

In most of these cases, the killers and victims were strangers.

In around nine of every 10 such murders, the accused were first-time offenders and regretted the killings soon after,” a senior police officer told The Hindu .

“Since most murders are committed in a fit of rage and are unplanned, the assailant is immediately known.

In some incidents last year, killers have been known to walk into police stations to surrender,” an officer said.

Even cases where the victims escaped death seem to be committed in sudden rage. Police say that in one-fourth of the around 900 attempt-to-murder cases registered last year, “sudden provocation” during quarrels over mostly trivial issues became the reason behind a murder.

Quarrels over petty issues, which threaten to turn deadly, are in fact more frequent than the statistics suggest.

The police control room receives around two calls every minute about quarrels over ‘silly and avoidable’ issues, which may range from parking disputes to playing of loud music.

While few road rage incidents led to deaths last year, the frequency of these clashes was so high that the Delhi Traffic Police had to issue repeated advisories and advertisements on how to deal with such situations.

Data from the Delhi Police shows that there has been a decline in the number of murders reported in the national Capital.

As against 3.95 persons killed for every 1 lakh of the population in 2001, the rate has come down to 3.12 in 2015.

Police also pat themselves on the back for few people being killed when a crime is committed.

Though crimes have increased, less than 10 per cent (or 51 people) are murdered when a crime is committed. In some of these cases, people were killed by thieves.

Among the sensational incidents was the murder of two elderly couples in East of Kailash and Patel Nagar.

Some rape-cum-murder cases, meanwhile, turned out to be unusual as the assailants raped the bodies of their victims.

Also, a few murders were categorised as “sex-related” where lovers or spouses killed 52 people last year.

Disputes within the family, or outside, and enmity accounted for 42 per cent of murders.

While around 50 murdered people remained unidentified, police were unable to assign a motive to 13 per cent of cases.

Technology, mostly CCTV cameras and mobile phone locations, helped the police crack three of every four murders.

With a success rate of 76.89 per cent last year, as against 75.76 per cent in 2014, the police’s performance has been improving.

The police control room receives around two calls every minute about quarrels over ‘silly and avoidable’ issues, which may range from parking disputes to playing of loud music

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