Thursday, 26 September 2013

I want my home back!

I want my home back!
Priyanka Agarwal
I am a girl next door from Delhi, very proud of my city in fact a hard core Delhiite at heart. Only a Delhiite knows what that means! It gives me immense pride to talk about the metro, the flyovers, the gardens which I inherited by the sheer virtue of being a natural citizen of Delhi.  But in recent years, as I moved out of Delhi for education and work, I found myself in a tough spot always defending my city when people asked questions such  as “What is the deadline for you to enter home in Delhi”, “Do you ever go out party at night”, “Do you feel safe on the roads”. I would never enjoy any jokes that stand up comics would crack around how the capital city has gained the dubious status of being the “Rape capital of the world”. I would keep placating myself thinking it is just media hype and unwanted exaggeration but the situation is actually not as bad as it is made out to be.
However, the ghastly crime in December in Delhi was like a nightmare come true. It was shocking and painful.  It is only a coincidence that I returned to Delhi around the same time after a period of three years. I noticed all that was said about Delhi was actually true. I had lived all my life in Delhi before that but this time it was different. It was almost certain that a girl is ogled at when is she is walking on the streets of Delhi. The DTC buses were packed with the opposite gender and women were conspicuous by their absence. The Delhi Metros now have compartments for women. I was no more in denial.
It doesn’t take more than typing a few words on Google to find out how Delhi is faring on crime charts. It’s shameful that the capital of India recorded the highest number of crimes among all mega cities in India last year. It filed the highest number of complaints of 17 per policemen vs. a national average of 3.7. Delhi had a record of accounting for one tenth of the crimes reported in 53 mega cities of India. It only gets worse when it comes to crimes against women where Delhi accounted for 14% among all crimes that happened across these megacities. These are only statistics which get reported, there is no count or record of the innumerable crimes going unreported. The situation is grave to say the least.
The daily rise of crime columns in newspapers, the crime reports on television infuriates me. It raises an existential question that has fallen on deaf ears of the government of Delhi. “Why can’t I travel freely without any fear in my own city when I can do so in most other cities of the world”. I have strolled on streets of Athens at midnight, I have boarded buses in Singapore, I have walked alone in narrow lanes of Milan and I have traveled in metros of Paris and London but never felt insecure. Well it is not just the other capital cities of the world that provide a safe and secure environment. I was happily surprised and proud when I visited Gujarat. The women walked freely on the streets late in the night. There was no fear or insecurity among any religion or gender of people. It truly felt liberated and at peace while ambling along the pavement in Ahmedabad.
The time has come when we need to bring about a change. We cannot have a leader like Sheila Dikshit who despite being a woman gets away with remarks holding women responsible for the crime. We have the power to throw away the languishing and insensitive government of 15 years in Delhi. We have the power to make change happen. We have to come out in large numbers to bring in a party that has offered hope and happiness, safety and security, growth and development in other parts of the country. We need the Gujarat model of safety and security to be implemented in Delhi.
 I want my capital to be a world class capital and it can become one only when it is safe for all people whether native or foreign. I want my city to top the charts when it is compared with the other mega cities not only in India but across the world. I want to feel free to walk on the roads at any time of the day and in any attire. I want the police to be alert and active to fight against any crime that happens in the city. I want to feel as secure as a VIP feels when he moves around in the city. I want to feel as if I am home and there is nothing to worry about. I want my home back! 

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