Understaffed police struggle to control crime in North-East Delhi

- April 29, 2024
| By : Kushan Niyogi |

Rapes and murder attempts increased while arms seizures decreased in the crime-prone district that has a deficit of 1200-odd police officers

INADEQUATE: The current DCP mans a 1,400-strong department against a sanctioned strength of 2,600 personnel

Dread hangs like a shadow over the Meet Nagar flyover near North-East’s Nand Nagri.

Although nobody seems to speak about it, the murder of ASI Dinesh Sharma on the flyover has given it an unenviable reputation of being the road where a police officer was killed. 

The alleged murderer was then found dead with a round of bullets emptied in the centre of his temple. A stray bullet also hit a passerby. 

But this wasn’t a one-off incident.

Multiple instances of violent crime have shaken residents of the district as surveillance is becoming more difficult by the day. 

“I do not have enough officers under my jurisdiction. There is a massive shortfall, which is posing a problem,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police, North East, Joy Tirkey. 

According to him, the current total police strength under his jurisdiction is 1,400 even though the total sanctioned strength is around 2,600 officers. The deficit runs to the tune of 1200-odd police officers. 

There have been 142 cases under the Arms Act in the district since the beginning of the year, with 148 persons arrested. The police have so far recovered 312 arms and ammunition in the pursued cases in the first quarter of 2024 itself — which is 81% of the 2023 seizure (394) and 97% of 2022 (321). 

However, the total number of cases under Arms Act seems to be showing a decline with year 2023 recording 384 reported cases as compared to year 2022, which recorded 457 cases.

Although the reported Arms Act cases came down in 2023, data accessed by Patriot reveals that attempted murder cases had doubled at 112 from 56 in 2022. 

On the other hand, the number of murders decreased slightly to 42, from 2022’s 44. 

The number of reported incidents of rape, however, increased in 2023 to 156, from 144 in 2022. 

Since January this year till April 20, there have been 28 incidents of attempted murder, 10 murders, and 52 incidents of rape. 

“Most of the guns recovered are from the jhuggi-jhopdi clusters in the area, since most people who stay in these places are a part of the floating population. Most suppliers also get these arms from neighbouring states like Uttar Pradesh, while others hail from Bihar. The matter comes down to the ready availability of Country Made Pistols (CMPs) in these areas,” said Tirkey. 

According to the available data from North-East Delhi, 14 CMPs have been seized in 2024 till 19th April. On the other hand, 61 CMPs and 68 CMPs were seized in 2023 and 2022, respectively. 

Although the number of heinous crimes has witnessed an upsurge, the total number of violent crimes witnessed a slight decline in 2023 at 19,222. In 2022, the number was slated at 19,562, recording 18,763 reported instances of theft, as opposed to 18,370 reported cases of theft in 2023. 

What Is ‘The Arms Act’?

The Arms Act brackets firearms under two categories — Prohibited Bore (PB) and Non Prohibited Bore (NPB). All automatic firearms and semi-automatic firearms, except pistols, fall under the Prohibited Bore category. Any firearm which can chamber and fire ammunition of the calibre .303 rifles, 7.62mm, .455; .45mm rimless, and 9mm pistols are specified as Prohibited Bore under The Arms Act of 1959. 

Smooth-bore guns having a barrel of less than 20 inches in length are also defined under Prohibited Bore guns.

Under the Act, bladed weapons of more than nine inches such as swords, khukris, knives, and the like, are prohibited for civilians. 

According to the data, police personnel have seized 121 knives in 2024 (till date) as compared to 313 knives in 2023 and 380 knives in 2024. 

“There is no pattern we have noticed when it comes to the age group of persons who commit crime or where we seize weapons from,” said the North East DCP. 

He further added that the absence of sufficient police personnel poses a problem in apprehending the criminals as well as seizing the weapons. 

Much like North-East Delhi, the North district has also been affected by a slew of such instances of crimes committed with the use of such weapons. The recent instance of a cab driver being murdered near Red Fort by four accused who have currently been apprehended has thrown light on the fairly rampant accessibility of firearms in these districts. 

“If you want firearms or weapons, they are readily available at the many slum clusters here. It is very sporadic and it is difficult to track the suppliers because most of them come from other states,” said Manoj Meena, Delhi Police North DCP. 

On the other hand, he added, “Unlike other cases, increased seizures under Arms Act are a positive since that essentially means that the police are doing their job since these are not reported but only acted upon through suo-motu cognisance.”

The JJ Cluster in Nand Nagri, near E-2 block, where the accused identified as Mukesh used to live, has been infested with multiple such instances of violence. Although residents are not aware of the gun trade in their cluster, crimes have become a mainstay. 

“This is the second murder that took place around our area in the past two weeks; otherwise, lesser crimes like armed robberies and snatching are fairly commonplace here,” said a resident, on the condition of anonymity. 

According to Mukesh’s brother, Naresh, he used to stay at his residence in Nand Nagri as well as another rented tenement at Loni Border. 

Earlier in February, the police personnel from the border area had uncovered an illegal factory of guns, seizing 33 pistols and 21 partially-made guns. On the other hand, in May 2023, the police had further seized 11 .315 bore pistols, one .12 bore pistol, 12 partially made country made pistols, arresting one in the process.