The last two months have already witnessed five murders in the city, at least three in full public view

Woman techie murder No security no CCTV no one to help - is Chennai really safe
Voices Crime Friday, June 24, 2016 - 14:19

It’s a label Chennai wears with pride – that it is one of the safest cities in India. But that label now lies bloodied and in tatters, hacked to pieces right in front of those who stood there doing nothing.

On Friday morning, as Chennai stepped into work, it received the shocking news of a 24-year-old woman employee of Infosys brutally hacked to death at the Nungambakkam railway station at 6am. Swathi’s murder in broad daylight comes less than 48 hours after an advocate was hacked to death by a gang of seven near Ashok Pillar. The last two months have already witnessed five murders in the city, at least three in full public view. Apart from this,  a family of four was found murdered in Royapettah earlier this week.    

But even as investigators piece together the events leading up to Friday’s daylight murder, the lapses in patrolling and security are now glaringly obvious. The murderer walked in, pulled out his machete, hacked her to death, and walked away. People watched on, there were no cops around to stop him.

Police say that there are no CCTV cameras at the Nungambakkam railway station. Nungambakkam is in the heart of the city, an upmarket residential and commercial area. The railway station even has the prestigious Loyola college as its neighbour.

An officer from the Railway Protection Force said they were clueless about the murder. “Generally, in every station, only one person from Railway Protection Force is put on duty, other than that, local police will be around for patrolling and in specific instances, when a minister is coming, people from government protection force will be put on duty,” said the RPF officer.  From the initial reaction of the RPF, it appears a classic blame-game will now follow. According to Southern Railways, around 1 lakh commuters use the Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) every day. Is that the security the state/centre provides to its commuters?

It is also astounding that there was not a single CCTV camera in this railway station that is used by thousands every day. The explanation given by the police is that cameras are installed in major railway stations. At a time when the India’s metros are on high alert virtually every day and with crimes against women also a major concern, it is remarkable how a station did not have single CCTV camera. Police forces in many metros have been encouraging private citizens and private commercial establishments to install CCTV cameras, so they do not have the responsibility to ensure that public places are monitored.

In many occasions we have learnt after a crime occurs that the CCTV cameras were not working, in this case there was none. 

Every time there is a rape in Delhi, there is a sense of relief in Chennai – thank god our city is safe, goes the thinking. Is it, really? The denial that we live in could cost us a lot more. But the response to this must not be fear, but fightback. We need better security from our police, more responsibility amongst ourselves and quick punishment for those who dare to hack to death a woman without any fear of consequence.

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