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Crime falls but terror revisits Delhiites in 2008

Shemin Joy in New Delhi | December 24, 2008 12:11 IST

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Coverage: Delhi serial blasts

The return of terror after a gap of three years and a gunfight with suspected Indian Mujahideen [Images] terrorists in which an encounter specialist lost his life sent shivers in the capital.

If one goes by figures provided by Delhi [Images] Police, the year also witnessed a decline of 12.78 per cent in crime rate in the city, which saw the murder of a TV journalist, elimination of the leader of the dreaded Bikers' Gang Bunty and the murder of another encounter specialist Rajbir Singh.

Bringing back the horror of the 2005 pre-Diwali serial blasts, five explosions ripped the city on September 13 in a span of 40 minutes killing 26 people and injuring 133. The Central Park in Connaught Place, Barakhamba Road, two places in Greater Kailash and Gaffar Market in Karol Bagh were the targets of terrorists.

As the capital limped back to normalcy, a gunfight between suspected terrorists and sleuths of Delhi Police's elite Special Cell in Jamia Nagar in south Delhi, a week after the blasts, broke the lull.

Two suspected IM terrorists, including Atif Amin whom police said was the mastermind of the blasts, were killed while Mohan Chand Sharma, Delhi Police's ace-shooter, lost his life in the shootout.

The encounter raised suspicion among some quarters who questioned the police theory of some terrorists escaping from the scene and why Sharma, a decorated officer, did not wear a bullet-proof jacket.

Five persons were arrested in the subsequent days with police claiming that Lashkar-e-Tayiba [Images] with the backing of Pakistan's ISI carried out the blasts. A fortnight after the serial blasts, an explosion took place in a market in south Delhi's Mehrauli, which claimed three lives.

Police ruled out terror link to the blast but were yet to make any headway in the probe. There were about five mysterious explosions in south Delhi this year.

At least six terrorists, including four from the Babbar Khalsa group, were also caught in the capital. Police claimed with these arrests, it foiled at least three attempts by these terrorists to create terror in the city.

Delhi Police lost encounter specialist Rajbir Singh in March when he was allegedly shot dead by a property dealer in neighbouring Gurgaon. There were allegations that the officer was involved into real estate business and was harassing the property dealer.

Another murder which rocked the capital was that of Soumya Viswanathan, a news producer of news channel Headlines Today, in the dead of the night in Vasant Kunj. She was found in her car near her house with a bullet in her head and police are still clueless about how was she murdered.

The killing of businessman Arun Gupta in broad daylight in Kalkaji by goons allegedly hired by one of his brothers-in-law Dinesh Mittal due to a property dispute was another murder, which grabbed newspaper headlines.

The month of August saw the end of Bunty, whose gang was allegedly involved in a number of daring robberies.

Statistics show that murders increased this year with the city recording 505 such incidents till November as against 453 in the corresponding period last year.

Maximum number of murder cases were registered in North-East Delhi (84) followed by Outer Delhi (68) and South-East Delhi (60).

However, the statistics indicated that the crime graph was on a decline compared to last year.

While, there were 50,981 criminal cases registered till November last year, the city police registered 44,419 cases in the corresponding period this year. In 2007, a total of 56,065 cases were registered.

Delhi continued to retain its dubious distinction of being the 'capital' of motor-vehicle thefts, registering 9,560 cases this year. This was a quantum jump of 1,817 cases till November compared to the same period last year.

However, cases of rape witnessed a sharp decline this year with 446 cases being reported till November as against 580 during the corresponding period. In 2007, a total of 598 rape cases were reported.

Molestation cases also registered a decline with 563 cases registered till November as against 801 last year. There were also 39 cases of attack on senior citizens, including 13 murders, with police claiming that the crime against elders were in the decline in the past five years.

Out of the total 39 cases, 32 were solved by police who arrested 57 people involved in these attacks.

For Delhi Police, it was also a year of prized catches. Many of the 'most-wanted' criminals landed in their net, which included Lok Sabha MP Ateek Ahmed who was evading Uttar Pradesh [Images] Police for eight months till his arrest in February in connection with the murder case of BSP MLA Raju Pal.

Other 'most wanted' included Brijesh Singh, who was eluding police for the past two decades, and Ravinder Singh, who gave sleuths a slip for the past 26 years.

On the wrong side, a number of police personnel brought bad name by their alleged involvement in corruption. An assistant sub inspector and six other policemen were arrested in February for allegedly demanding Rs 19 lakh from one of the accused in the infamous Gurgaon kidney scam.

If the sleuths had acted scrupulously, a senior police official said, Delhi Police would have taken the credit for unearthing the scam.

April was a 'month of shame' for the city police as they had to dismiss a traffic police constable who allegedly raped a 11-year-old girl in Outer Delhi. The incident created strong reactions with a Parliamentary panel even summoning Commissioner Y S Dadwal to discuss the safety and security of women in the city.

In the same month, the force suspended 98 traffic personnel, including 11 sub inspectors, who were filmed allegedly accepting bribes from blueline bus drivers.

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