Delhi Police: ‘With You, For You, Always’... Really?

You could get a pizza delivered faster than you could get a PCR van in Delhi. Small comfort when you’re in danger.

4 min read
(Photo:  <b>The Quint</b>/Hardeep Singh)

Dear Mr Police Commissioner of Delhi,

I am writing to you not as a journalist, but as a victim who stood helplessly on the streets of South Delhi for over an hour waiting for a PCR van. Yes, you read it right. For one hour I was left waiting for police assistance.

I hope this letter impresses upon you the gravity of our situation that night.

I have been an investigative reporter for over 11 years. I have reported on several crime cases in the city. But for the first time, I found myself a victim. Around 9 pm on 24 April, my friend and I parked our cars on Sirifort Road, opposite Gargi College, to have dinner at a nearby restaurant. We had to park in an unmanned parking area for lack of options.

When we returned after an hour, ready to go home, we found the passenger-side windows of both our cars shattered and our bags stolen. There were 10 other cars parked in the vicinity, all unharmed.

Somehow we absorbed the shock, but our plight had just begun. From 10:10 pm we repeatedly called 100. But every time we called, we were told, ‘Kripya line par rahe.’ When we couldn’t get through, we called the women’s helpline number 1091, but that too, went unanswered. Finally, at around 10:25 pm, my friend managed to file a complaint on the 100 line. We waited and waited... then waited some more.

Two PCR vans passed by, determinedly ignoring our efforts to get them to stop. I can only imagine what would have happened had we been in serious danger – two women, late at night, in the heart of the city.

At around 10:45 pm, we tried dialling 100 again. The lady at the police control room was a study in indifference. She told us she had informed the relevant police station, and that it was now up to them to send a PCR van.

Alok Kumar Verma, Delhi Police Commissioner. (Photo Courtesy: Delhi Police <a href="">website</a>)
Alok Kumar Verma, Delhi Police Commissioner. (Photo Courtesy: Delhi Police website)

Initially, I decided that I would follow procedure like any citizen and lodge a police complaint. I didn’t feel the need to call my personal contacts. But when I failed to get a response from the PCR for almost 45 minutes, I was compelled to call DCP Rajan Bhagat, who is a media officer in the Delhi Police. But he, too, didn’t pick up. Then I tried calling the Special Commissioner Police, Taj Hasan, to no avail.

By this time, I was furious at the dereliction of duty at every level. Once again, I called DCP Bhagat and this time, he answered. He told me the PCR van would reach the spot in five minutes. Within two minutes, I got a call from the police control room. The lady on the other end was oozing courtesy, and assured me that the PCR van would reach very soon.

Delhi Police van parked on the road. (Photo: iStockphoto)
Delhi Police van parked on the road. (Photo: iStockphoto)

My friend and I sat on the pavement waiting for it to arrive. By now, we were both exhausted and stressed. Though it was a running road, nobody stopped to help us. The Nirbhaya incident played on my mind.

I suddenly started thinking, what if I were injured and only had enough life to make one call? Should I dial 100 or my family members? Whom should I make my emergency call to?

Sir, answer this question, if you would, because I am at a loss. Who is responsible for citizens’ safety in the capital of the world’s largest democracy? Because Delhi Police certainly weren’t.

When did the PCR finally arrive, you ask? It didn’t.

While we were sitting there on the pavement, we hailed a police jeep. We literally stood in the middle of the road and forced it to stop. The police officer promptly took us to the Defence Colony police station.

The moment I entered the station, voila! A call from the PCR cop materialised.

“Madam jee, aap kahan hai?”

Too little, too late.

It seems the Delhi Police tag line ‘With you for you always’ is missing some fineprint: “Only applicable to VVIPs”.

It is rightly said that Delhi is a city of ‘who’s whos’ and the aam admi must run from pillar to post to make themselves heard... if they’re lucky.

If the horrific Nirbhaya case couldn’t reform the functioning of the Delhi Police, I have no illusions about this incident affecting you too much, Mr Commissioner.

Perhaps you’ll exercise your imagination and think about what you would do if it were your mother, sister, or daughter stranded at night on a road in Delhi, unable to avail of police protection.

The chances of that happening are slim, I know, because you are the Commissioner of Delhi Police, and the department will always look after you and yours.

You will go to sleep each night, safe in the knowledge that you and your loved ones are secure... but what about the rest of us, sir?

Yours Sincerely,
Resident of Delhi

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