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Safety indicators of Guwahati

About 40,000 crime cases in Guwahati pending disposal since 1992 and the police not being able to trace case diaries of 16,000 of these cases paint a dismal picture of crime management in the capital city.

crime cases

Sentinel Digital Desk

About 40,000 crime cases in Guwahati pending disposal since 1992 and the police not being able to trace case diaries of 16,000 of these cases paint a dismal picture of crime management in the capital city. Pending crime cases encourage the offenders to commit further crimes and also reduce the fear of being punished among people with a criminal bent of mind. Several incidents of daylight robbery, murder in the city over the past few weeks have created the perception of the Gateway to the Northeast fast becoming unsafe. Even though the police have succeeded in making a prompt breakthrough in several cases, prevention of crimes, investigation and piling up of pending cases remain a challenge for them for lack of adequate manpower and infrastructural support in the rapidly growing city. Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma setting the deadline of March 31, 2022, for disposal of a maximum number of pending and new registered cases and tracing the missing case diaries will require the city police to go into overdrive to achieve it. Lack of adequate CCTV cameras in the city is a key factor affecting surveillance of the city against crimes and delaying progress in the investigation but appears to be least on the priorities of the successive governments and civic authorities. Several localities of the city either not having adequate streetlights or installed streetlights lying out of order is a major contributing factor behind the rise in incidents of snatching on the streets in the evening and at night. The city's poor ranking of 46 out of 49 million-plus cities in the Ease of Living Index 2020 released by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs indicates the failure of Guwahati Smart City Limited, Urban Affairs Department, Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority and Guwahati Municipal Corporation to make concerted efforts to expedite projects aimed at improving the indices and make life in the city safer and more comfortable. Under the EoLI, 2020, Guwahati was placed at a dismal rank of 40 among 49 million-plus cities in the country in the category of safety and security under the pillar of quality of life. City residents have been flagging the issues of nonavailability of streetlights, CCTV cameras to improve safety but delay in project implementation despite the availability of funds under smart city projects and various other schemes and projects of the central and the state governments speak volume about the serious lack of capacity of the authorities to plan and implement projects for a large city. Overlapping of jurisdictions of multiple authorities entrusted the responsibilities of undertaking development work for the city often creates confusion among the residents when they seek to bring certain issues to the notice of the authorities concerned. The city residents are clueless about whom to approach and lack of transparency in projects planned or implemented only allows the space for perception of Guwahati fast becoming an unsafe and unliveable city with no hopes for change in the immediate future to grow among citizens and visitors. The "Safe City Indicators" project of the Bureau of Police Research and Development, circulated to the states by the Ministry of Home Affairs has been designed to rate different cities on various safety parameters. Eight indicators developed under this project list personal safety indicators that include safety from violent crimes, property offences, like theft, burglary, the safety of women and children, senior citizens, the safety of children in educational institutions, women at the workplace and vulnerable sections. The project also lists police-public ratio and police response time to be key indicators for a safe environment in cities and the project document states that well trained and highly motivated police can transform any city to achieve reasonable safety standards. One of the safety parameters for ranking a city under the project is the capacity of the city to provide reliable and comprehensive security measures to predict threats and hazardous situations and it emphasizes that the city authorities must be able to take measures to prevent threats from occurring in the first place. The city's civic authorities in collaboration with the police authorities and with support from the Central and the State governments will have to pull up their socks and take timely measures to improve all safe city indicators for Guwahati to be ranked high in the list of safe cities in India. Neighbourhood Watch Committees formed in the city in the past helped improve the safety perception among citizens but strengthening such community policing initiatives requires bridging the gap between police and the public. Frequent visits by top police officials, including the city police commissioner to different localities and holding interaction with residents can ensure active participation of citizens in community policing and play a crucial role in keeping their neighbourhoods safe. Making Guwahati a city safe for all requires a holistic approach beyond the registration and disposal of crime cases.

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