25 dark and dangerous spots in Delhi
It was 8 pm on May 29 when Pranjal Kapoor was walking down a stretch that leads to ITO Metro Station. While she was still praying for her safety, criminals on a motorcycle attacked her.
"I was lucky... they sped away after snatching my iPhone. It was so dark I couldn't even see the vehicle's registration number," said the 27-year-old government employee.
Monika Shrivasatav had a similarly harrowing experience when she was walking to her house in Mukherjee Nagar at 9.30 pm on May 16.
"Three persons attacked me and took away my iPhone and purse containing Rs 20,000, a debit card and important documents. There was no PCR van or patrolling bike. The road was completely isolated," said the 32-year-old homemaker.
The phone had been gifted to her by her husband on their first wedding anniversary a week ago.
These are only two of the 2,000 dangerously dark and isolated stretches identified by the Delhi Police in their efforts to curb rising cases of snatching, molestation and rape, Mail Today has learnt from reliable sources.
The revelation comes at a time the AAP government's big pre-poll promise to allow women free travel on public buses and Metro trains has triggered a debate whether it will ensure deteriorating safety levels.
Sample these: A total of 6,932 snatchings, mostly involving women victims, were reported in 2018. This came to 19 cases a day.
This year, until May 15, 2,444 cases have already been reported. 2018 saw 2,135 rapes - a 202% increase from 706 in 2012. This year, till May 15, 778 cases have already been reported. A total of 3,314 molestations were reported in 2018 - a jump of 355% from 727 in 2102. This year, until May 15, 1,082 cases have already been reported.
Though the police do not maintain a separate record of crimes along dark stretches, they confirmed a lot of these cases take place there.
"Dark spots encourage criminals to commit crime as passersby become an easy target. Even if CCTV cameras are installed, they are useless because of darkness. It helps criminals in easy escape and allows them to target more people," said a senior official.
BEWARE OF THESE
These stretches, mostly 500 metres in length, are around the airport, Metro & Railway stations, Malls and posh localities where multiple authorities have failed to install or repair streetlights.
In May, an audit revealed that even the Terminal-3's multi-level car parking at the airport has some dark spots.
Twenty-five of these stretches are worst hit by crime. Fifteen of them lead to Metro Stations such as ITO, Jama Masid, Govindpuri, Dwarka Mor, Uttam Nagar, Janakpuri West, Janakpuri East, Tilak Nagar, Shadipur, Chandni Chowk, Kashmere Gate, New Delhi, Adarsh Nagar, Vishwavidyalaya and Jahangirpuri are on the list.
The others are in South Delhi's Lajpat Nagar, South Extension, Saket, Vasant Vihar and Dhaula Kuan. The rest five are Pragati Maidan, Bhairon Road, Sundar Nagar, Nizamuddin Road and Barapullah Road.
"Bikers come dangerously close to women on the road leading to Govindpuri Metro Station. They touch them inappropriately and pass lewd comments. Some of my friends have become victims. One of the main reasons encouraging criminals is total darkness," said Amrita Sharma, a 21-year-old college student.
Delhi Police spokesperson Madhur Verma said teams have been deployed to keep an extra vigil on these dark stretches.
"Proper patrolling is done in and around these spots to ensure safety. Also, cops have been instructed to accompany women in case they are passing by these stretches alone," he said.
The police said whenever they find, during patrolling, any defunct streetlight or no lighting, they inform the heads of the civic agencies.
"Every day, a chart is prepared and shared with authorities via e-mail for repair and installation. During a recent dark spot analysis, we found these lights were sometimes switched off," said a police officer.
Our PCR vans are covering 325 vulnerable routes frequented by families, working women and night revellers through intensive patrolling at regular intervals," he said.
APP COMING SOON
The Delhi Police will soon launch an app that will inform commuters and pedestrians about dark stretches near them. "Through this, complaints about defunct or partially lit street lamps can be made and people will receive status alerts directly from civic agencies," Verma said.
AAP GOVT'S MOVE
In September, the Delhi government asked SafetiPin, a nonprofit, to map the city and identify stretches unsafe for women for immediate action. SafetiPin's audit assesses public spaces based on nine parameters which include street lighting, security, gender diversity, and how safe a person feels in a space. The agency has taken up another audit.
"Our team is compiling data of dark stretches in the city and will put that in public domain shortly. Hopefully these dark stretches will be looked at by the civic bodies and safer environment will be provided to women," said Kalpana Viswanath, Safetipin Cofounder and prominent gender rights researcher.