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Assaults: poor policing to blame?

By Devesh K. Pandey

NEW DELHI OCT. 15 . The two incidents reported from the Siri Fort Auditorium premises — one in which a Swiss Embassy employee was allegedly abducted, raped and criminally assaulted and another in which an Indian documentary film-maker was assaulted - within an hour on Tuesday evening have raised serious doubts about the security arrangements made by the Delhi police for the ongoing International Film Festival of India.

The Deputy Commissioner of Police, South Delhi, Vivek Gogia, said 12 personnel had been deployed in and around the Siri Fort premises for the safety of visitors. The personnel were also entrusted with the task of keeping an eye on the parking lots as the auditorium's personal security guards were deployed inside the venue for frisking of visitors.

According to regular visitors to the auditorium, the police personnel were seen only at the entry gates of parking lots. They said the parking lot adjoining Gate No. 4 of the auditorium — where the incidents occurred — was very large and there was a need for more men to cover the entire area. This apart, the visitors claimed that the parking lot was badly lit. "The authorities have installed solar lamps in the parking lot, which often do not function. In such a situation, any miscreant can escape under the cover of darkness after committing a crime," a visitor said.

At the time when the Swiss Embassy employee was abducted there were no policemen at the parking lot. However, the Delhi Police Commissioner, Radhey Shyam Gupta, said there was sufficient deployment on the auditorium premises, but those on duty were not alert enough.

During his visit to the scene of the crime, the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor, Vijai Kapoor, admitted that the recent incidents of rape across the Capital had created a scare among the citizens. However, he said the Delhi police were doing their best to restore a sense of security among the Delhiites. Several teams had been formed to nab those involved in the incident. Mr. Kapoor and Mr. Gupta are said to have met the Swiss employee today and assured her that the perpetrators of the crime would be arrested.

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