A crime that taught police a lesson

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One year after Dec 16 gang rape
By Alok Singh
New Delhi
, Dec 14 (IANS) Every cloud is said to have a silver lining. And the shocking gang rape of a young woman in a commuter bus has had at least one positive fallout – signal improvement in the working of an important police station here.

A year ago, the three-storeyed Vasant Vihar Police Station in south Delhi buzzed with activity as officials worked round the clock to string together the pieces of the Dec 16 gang rape while outside, scores of angry people railed against police.

Learning from these experiences, police took several measures to make the station more efficient and people-friendly.

The officers, who were present at the police station during the night of Dec 16 when they received a call from a passer-by of two injured people lying by the roadside – the gang rape victim and her friend, shared their experiences with an IANS correspondent about the changes and initiatives taken by them in the past one year.

“After the charge sheet was filed in 17 days in the case, I focused on improving the infrastructure at the police station and increasing the number of staff,” Station House Officer Anil Sharma, who was also the investigating officer in the case, told IANS.

“Before the Dec 16 incident, we were short of staff and had few women. Now we have 150 staff, including 25 women,” he said.

A year ago, the police station had only one woman sub inspector – now it has three, while the number of female constables has gone up to 20.

The police station has also got two emergency response vehicles (ERV). “Other police stations have just one. Three more Gypsy vehicles were given to us for patrolling,” said Sharma.

A round-the-clock quick reaction team vehicle and road patrol vehicle for deployment in vulnerable areas was given to the Vasant Vihar police station.

A separate room for the interrogation of women accused has been set up – the first one in Delhi, while one more lock up has been added.

“It was our initiative that helped in lighting up the Shaheed Jeet Singh Marg which was in darkness, as no street light was working on the night of Dec 16,” said the officer. The road is near the Munirka flyover, on which the bus had travelled on Dec 16 night with the young victims on board.

The 23-year-old student physiotherapist was brutally raped in front of her male friend by six people including a juvenile inside that bus as it passed on the unlit road. The couple was later thrown out of the bus on the cold December night.

The woman died 13 days later in a hospital in Singapore.

Another official recalled the tense times they faced after Dec 16 with the pressure to complete the probe fast.

“We had a tough time when we were investigating the case and preparing the charge sheet, but our efforts day in and out helped to get it done,” he said.

“We were rewarded (for cracking the case fast),” said a staff member

The trial court has condemned four of the accused to death, while proceedings against Ram Singh, the prime accused, were ended after he was found dead in jail, having apparently committed suicide. The review of the death sentence is on in the Delhi High Court.

The minor accused was tried by a court for juvenile offences and sentenced to three years in a juvenile home – the maximum punishment.

The Vasant Vihar police station building also houses the office of an assistant commissioner of police, who controls two more nearby police stations. It also has a magistrate’s office where hearings are held.

Sharma said they were working to prevent recurrence of any such incident again. However, the number of rapes reported at the police station this year has doubled to 17 against eight cases, including the Dec 16 gang rape, last year.

(Alok Singh can be contacted at alok.s@ians.in)

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