Inside Delhi

Knee-jerk reaction

Knee-jerk reaction is nothing new to the style of Indian policing and the Delhi police are no exception to the rule. So following the sensational Dhaula Kuan rape case in which a Delhi University girl was driven around the city while being criminally assaulted in a moving vehicle and the twin bomb blasts, the Delhi police have woken up to the need for picketing on the roads -- and rather than actually helping cut down on crime the exercise has only decelerated the traffic flow.

From the very manner in which the picketing is carried out, it becomes quite evident that it is only an exercise being carried out in pursuance of orders and nothing more. During the checks, the cars are seldom stopped. If at all, it is the taxis that are waved down and asked to show their papers. Also, commercial vehicles are signalled and asked to show the documents.

But the biggest casualty of the exercise are the two-wheeler riders who are mostly the ones asked to prove their credentials. With few gains forthcoming, these measures only mock our style of policing. Also, many a time people are left wondering why the pickets are set up at points before which exist alternate routes through which "real suspects" can give the police a slip.

A case in point is Bhairon Road near Pragati Maidan. While a picket came up there just about 50 metres from Ring Road on Monday, there was no stopping vehicles escaping through a by-pass ahead of the picketing point. So terrorists or criminals could have easily bypassed it without our smart cops ever knowing about it.

Also, very often, there is little or no cover for the men manning the pickets. The other day a fast moving Cielo car zipped past the police picket at the new Ghazipur flyover on National Highway-24 even as two police personnel waved it down in vain. In another country it would have led to a cat-and-mouse chase -- worthy of being recorded on camera and shown later as a gripping television programme -- but here it turned out to be a no show as the two poor cops could no more than just see the car zip past.

— Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

Painting for tsunami victims

The colossal tsunami that swept through Asia this past December has been caught on a giant canvas measuring 75 feet by 25 feet by the veteran artist Gulshan Bhagat. The painting -- sponsored by the non-government organisation Jan Utthan Sangh -- has entered the Limca Book of Records as the largest such art work in India.

"I wanted to paint on a scale that reflected the size and destruction of the wave that swept through Asia," says Bhagat. Affecting some 10 countries in Asia, the tsunami travelled as far as Africa and claimed nearly 200,000 lives. Among the worst hit were Indonesia -- closest to the epicentre of the underwater earthquake -- and Sri Lanka. Nearly 10,000 Indians also lost their lives. "The work is to be sold not for personal benefit but to raise money for the victims," says Bhagat. As for the price, he adds: "This will depend on the market, but I hope that it will attract a generous offer not only for its artistic merit but to help those affected by that natural disaster."

The money raised will be donated to the Prime Minister's Relief Fund for tsunami victims.

"The painting is a manifestation of my creativity, but also a realistic portrayal of the enormous events of December last year," says Bhagat. "That is why I used as inspiration not just news reels but also satellite pictures of the waves as they unfolded along Asian coastlines."

"The work, which is divided into nine segments, is a reminder to all the nations of the world of their responsibility to the victims, this is why I painted all the world's flags on the canvas," says Bhagat. Art connoisseurs, collectors and others simply interested in this unique piece of art with a social theme can view it at Hall 14 of Pragati Maidan for another week.

— Staff Reporter

Capital in a jam

Last week proved to be an arduous one for motorists in the Capital, particularly for those travelling to East Delhi. While "Operation Black Rose" of the Delhi police on Friday night literally brought the city's entire traffic to a standstill for a couple of hours, major repair work at the ITO bridge on the Yamuna on Saturday and Sunday badly affected travel to the trans-Yamuna areas and vice versa.

All of a sudden on Friday night after 8 p.m. barricades came up all over city roads and Police Control Room vans were "strategically" placed restricting traffic movement as the Delhi police began its "operation". This led to huge traffic jams during peak evening hours on almost all major roads including Ring Road.

"I left my office after 8-30 p.m. and was caught in a jam at the Ring Road-Nizamuddin bridge crossing. Thinking that there was some accident or other problem, I decided to take ITO Bridge for Indirapuram in Ghaziabad," said Deepak Kumar, an executive working in a Connaught Place firm.

However, when he reached the ITO bridge-Ring Road crossing, he was amazed to see another huge traffic jam right up to Bahadur Shah Zafar Marg. It was then that he got a call from home informing him of major traffic restrictions in East Delhi areas, he said. "Then I decided to take the Noida toll bridge like other Noida and Ghaziabad-bound motorists. At the toll plaza there were long queues. Instead of the usual 45 minutes, it took 90 minutes to reach home that day," he added.

— Sandeep Joshi

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