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The Rediff Special/R Swaminathan

November 03, 2003

Running ScaredIt is now better known as the crime capital of India. Home to the political elite, Delhi has more gun-toting policemen for every 100 people than any other city in India. But despite that it is a nasty war out there for women.

Getting to work, shop or to just catch a movie is for most akin to walking through a minefield. Teasing, pawing, groping, physical assault, sexual harassment and rape are what women in Delhi face every single day.

And like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the city seems hell bent on not letting go of its notorious sobriquet. The recent rape of a Swiss diplomat and the assault on a filmmaker outside the prestigious Siri Fort auditorium is a case in point.

Out of the 3,285 people who took a recent poll on whether Delhi is safe for women, a whopping 71 per cent (2,344) said 'no'. Only 9 per cent (310) felt Delhi was safe.

But why is Delhi so unfriendly to women? Explanations are as many as there are people. Unbridled power, money, outsiders and lack of roots have all been touted as reasons.

Recent years have been witness to some of the most gruesome and high profile crimes in the capital. revisits the crimes that have given the city its reputation.

Naina Sahni Murder

The night of July 2, 1995, was like any other for constable Abdul Nazir Kunju and Home Guard Chanderpal.

But the duo knew that something was amiss when they saw smoke coming out of the open-air Bagiya Restaurant in Ashok Yatri Niwas (now called Indraprastha Hotel)... more

Priyadarshini Mattoo Murder

'That I know the defendant is guilty, my hands are tied. As a judge, I can only go by the evidence provided by the investigative agencies.'

These were the words of Additional Sessions Judge G P Thareja, who acquitted Santosh Kumar Singh, Delhi University law student and son of an Indian Police Service Officer, J P Singh... more 

Jessica Lal Murder

Her friends describe her as bubbly, vivacious and full of life. But one bullet ended that life on April 30, 1999.

Model Jessica Lal was an avid party animal. On that fateful night she was the celebrity bartender at a bash hosted by socialite Bina Ramani at her Delhi restaurant, the Tamarind Court... more 

Shivani Bhatnagar Murder

On September 27, 2002, IPS officer Ravi Kant Sharma surrendered before a court in Ambala after being on the run for more than 45 days.

More than three and a half years after the murder of The Indian Express journalist Shivani Bhatnagar on January 23, 1999, the prime accused was in custody... more

Maulana Azad Medical College Rape

The police headquarters is less than a kilometre away from where a fourth-year student of the Maulana Azad Medical College was raped on November 15, 2002.

Three people committed the rape at knifepoint on the terrace of the Khooni Darwaza monument on the busy Bahadurshah Zafar Marg... more

Siri Fort Rape

On October 14, two men raped a Swiss diplomat outside the Siri Fort auditorium, where the International Film Festival of India was being held.

The incident, which came barely a week after four soldiers of the elite President's Bodyguard raped a college girl, sent shockwaves across Delhi... more 

Alarming Trends

Alarmed by the spate of crimes against women concerned citizens and organisations have held numerous protest marches in Delhi.

A study -- Crime Against Women: Bondage and Beyond -- conducted by Centre for Women's Development Studies, has found Delhi to have the highest overall crime rate (number of crimes per million population)... more

A Ray of Hope

She is the face of hope. By putting away her fiancée behind bars for demanding dowry, she has shown that given will and courage the menace can be tackled.

May 11, 2003, was when the 21 year old became a media celebrity and Munish Dalal, her fiancée, and his mother found themselves behind bars... more

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

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