When Delhi Metro began operations in 2002, Delhi Police had tasked 254 officials for the maintenance of law and order in the trains and stations. After 15 years, despite the average ridership rising from 40,000 to 27 lakh, the number of police personnel deployed for the Metro network remains the same.
A massive rise in ridership without any change in deployment of police personnel has meant that there are more and more passengers every year fall under the purview of a single cop on duty. In 2002, there were roughly 158 passengers for every Delhi Police officer posted on Metro. However, as of 2017, there are now 10,866 passengers daily for a single on-duty cop.
As a result of the unchanging number of cops, the numbers of crimes committed on Metro stations as well as the number of cases that are unresolved have seen a significant spike. According to police records, there has been a 13-fold jump in crimes on the Delhi Metro premises over the last five years. In 2016, only 3% of 9,621 cases reported in the Metro network were solved. Though more cases were cracked in 2017 — 21% of 12,854 cases — the solving rate for crimes at Metro premises remains low.
Those posted at the 16 police stations dedicated to the network blame the shortfall of manpower to the rise in crime as well as the rising number of unsolved cases. Four of these 16 police stations are functioning without SHOs. “Staffs at Delhi Metro police stations are entrusted with the task of registration of complaints, investigating cases and maintenance of records. But what we lack is people. A police station should have at least 75 personnel… on an average we have 16,” said a constable.
Understaff and Overworked
Officers say they have to juggle several things at once. Among those on duty, the majority are constables who have to double up for patrolling duties, sometimes conduct rounds in plainclothes, and serve on court duty. Additionally like any territorial police station, they are required to have a record room and a storeroom and an in-charge is required for both.
The constables, in particular, share the patrolling and security duties with CISF, but as was seen in the case of the molestation of a journalist at ITO last month, bad elements are able to exploit gaps left behind. Among the minority that remain, head constables and junior officers from the rank of assistant sub-inspectors and above, are the ones entrusted to investigate criminal cases.
“These cases are mainly of thefts, pickpocketing and of misbehaviour with women. On an average, each investigating officer is saddled with 150-200 cases. The paperwork in itself takes the majority of time. Add to that, the size of a crowd gives a sense of anonymity to the commuters and we cannot stop anyone from entering a Metro station. With such constraints finding the accused this becomes a challenge,” explained an ASI.
Certain cases of crime against women or children necessitate the need for women sub-inspectors, a luxury that not all these police stations have. In addition to the 16 police stations, the Metro unit has recently set up 23 booths at some stations to facilitate reporting of crime, said DCP (Metro) Pankaj Singh.
While the booths have been helpful for the public, a junior staffer said that they mean adding another burden on the staff. Most of these booths are open from 9am to 5pm and the one at Rajiv Chowk runs round-the-clock. Senior police officers say try to optimise the resources they have and that in recent times, tracing of criminals has improved.
“We have been conveyed that it’s a priority for the Ministry of Home Affairs too (to increase staff). For now, we are trying to borrow 10 more inspector-rank officers from different units to work in the Metro which will help us in tracking crime better,” said special commissioner of police (women safety and modernisation) Sanjay Beniwal.
“Initially the arrangement was that the personnel were supplied from Railways Unit which became Railways and Metro unit in 2013. Realising the growing importance of the Metro, we made it a separate unit last month with a full-time DCP rank officer and for now it is working with the borrowed staff from the erstwhile Railways and Metro unit,” said Beniwal.