The Jnanbharati campus area in Bangalore has always been an unsafe place for men and women. However, there has been a recent spurt in crime in the area that requires our immediate attention. A recent incident of rape in the campus has made the need for greater police protection and civic amenities such as adequate lighting absolutely essential - to ensure safety, for now and the morrow.
The Karnataka State Home Secretary,
Nagarbhavi is home to several reputed education and research institutes, including the Bangalore University, the National Law School of India University and the Institute of Social and Economic Change. This locality has also long been notorious for its crime, despite the fact that it is now fast developing into a residential area. In recent months there have been several instances of murder and sexual assault which have resulted in a law and order crisis. The most recent crime is the unfortunate incident of the alleged gang rape of one of the students of National Law School of India University in Jnanabharati on 13 October 2012. This incident and the larger problem of law and order around our college campus have prompted us to write to you.
Statistics of crime in 2011 released by the National Crime Reports Bureau, compared to statistics from the previous year, can help us understand the larger law and order situation in Bangalore. In the past year, there have been 232 instances of murder (decrease by 12.8%), 460 instances of attempt to murder (increase by 3.4%), 43 instances of dacoity (decrease by 34.8%), 2927 instances of hurt (decrease by 7.2%), 783 burglaries (increase by 22.2%) and 10,543 cases of theft (marginal decrease of 0.2%).
Crimes against women however have risen tremendously. There have been 97 incidents of reported rape (an alarming increase of 49.2%, with a majority of the victims belonging to the age group of 18-30 years) and 573 instances of abduction (of which 206 were women, which is an exponential increase of 610.3%). Bangalore is currently ranked fourth in the country both in instances of rape and kidnapping and molestation and second overall in crimes against women. The growing level of violence targeted at women is a cause for concern. There is a tendency to react to increasing violence against women with a call for self-restraint. We implore you to rethink this approach and instead ensure that public spaces be made more safe for women. Furthermore, the media have a propensity to sensationalise such events with little or no regard for the privacy of the victim or the investigation process. They even resort to victim blaming which makes the reporting of the crimes that much more impossible for the female victims. The police can help ensure responsible reporting by exercising restraint in the information that is divulged to the media pursuant to a crime of rape or molestation.
The reasons for increase in the general crime levels in Nagarbhavi are several. Increased politicization of the Bangalore University has resulted in the absence of rule of law in and around the University. Furthermore, the story of the growth of this locality is one of lopsided development. Basic amenities such as roads, power and water supply have been inadequate. This has a direct bearing on the number of street lights in the area and connectivity through roads, and hence on the general level of safety in the vicinity. The forest cover in the region attracts several sandalwood smugglers. To add to this, since the Bangalore University is on a public route, the BBMP does not allow the University gates to be shut at night, even though they are not adequately guarded. In general, there is a growing sense of fear in the vicinity of our college premises.
Undoubtedly, the police forces in Bangalore have been proactive in recording and investigating crimes to the best of their ability. However, we believe that the law and order situation in Nagarbhavi requires to be addressed through increased police protection. Police stations in Bangalore are understaffed. Although the city needs 10,148 policepersons, there are presently only 8,842; approximately 1 policeperson for every 1,018 people, much below the ratio in other metros. Presently, there are 104 law and order police stations in Bangalore, not nearly enough for a city this size. Recently, there was a proposal to set up an additional police station in Jnanabharati. Given that the lone Jnanabharati police station currently has jurisdiction over a very large area, we believe that this move is imperative. Additionally, police personnel still do not have necessary equipment, continued training or funds that are necessary to effectively conduct investigations and control crimes. Thus, the increased level of crime in Nagarbhavi has not been countered with adequate response by the police force.
There is thus an urgent need for increased and effective police presence in Nagarbhavi. As concerned students studying in the locality, we request the following:
• That the existing Jnanabharati police station be bifurcated such that Nagarbhavi has its own police station;
• That there be an increase in the number of police personnel in and around Nagarbhavi, including women police officers;
• That the police personnel appointed to this police station be experienced and trained in handling crimes against women specifically;
• That the gates and the road leading to and from the Bangalore University be adequately guarded at all times;
• That the police be provided with necessary facilities to be able to report and investigate crimes by increasing funds allotted for investigation, new technology and continuous training and sensitization programmes;
• That there be adequate street lights installed in Nagarbhavi and Jnanabharati;
• That there be a functional police helpline that facilitates immediate police intervention for crimes in general, and one specifically for instances of rape and sexual harassment as implemented in Delhi and Haryana;
• That there be a Public Relations Officer in the police station such that the media is briefed responsibly, while protecting the privacy of the victim;
• That the police station have a liaison with local NGOs to provide counseling and trauma care as has been successfully implemented for crimes such as domestic violence.
We hope that these and other measures you deem fit are implemented at the earliest. The community at National Law School is deeply shocked by the incident and we turn to you for assistance to ensure that no such untoward incident occurs again. We are confident that you will consider our requests favourably and offer our unconditional assistance to facilitate the same.
Student Bar Association,
National Law School of India University