New Delhi has been witnessing a lot of chaos in regard of stalking and rapes in the recent years. The number of stalking cases in the Indian capital have increased from 542 in 2014 to 1,128 in 2015 and the numbers have already reached to 670 this year until September, according to police reports.
‘’A boy used to call me every day with different numbers and say indecent things. At first I thought they are all different people and was very worried about why are so many of them suddenly calling me and where did they get my number from. Then I started tracing the location and names of the callers through an application called ‘Truecaller’ and got to know that it was one person. I kept blocking all the numbers but he would call again with a new one. Eventually he stopped,’’ said Rashmi (the name has been changed for confidentiality reasons), a 21-year-old student in New Delhi.
Not only over the phone, but stalking may happen at workplace, educational institutions, in the neighborhood, over social media or even inside one’s house.
Even after the introduction of Section 354D of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in 2013, which describes stalking as a punishable crime and states that a person found guilty of doing so, can be imprisoned for three to five years and also fined; New Delhi has witnessed many serious cases. While some of them ended up in the death of the victims, others became a reason for robbery or stabbing.
In a recent case, a school teacher was stabbed 22 times by her stalker in north Delhi in September this year, after following her for a year.
According to police reports, there is a notable increase in stalking cases in the city within three years. As compared to 542 stalking cases in 2014, 1,128 cases were reported last year. As of September 2016, 670 cases have already been registered with the highest number of cases reported from South Delhi.
“In 90 pc of the cases, the accused is known to the victim. Once a complaint reaches us, we conduct the probe following the law, but face problems when the complainant declines to pursue legal action against the accused. Often, victims and their families want police to just threaten the offender without taking legal action. When the problem persists, they approach police again with the same request. We take the help of psychiatrists or advise the parents to take help,” a police SHO recently told a national daily.
Women have now become bolder and stronger in their will to report the crimes taking place against them and these increasing complaints against the stalkers may be a reason why the reported cases have doubled in a year. At the same time, the victims and their families prefer not to get into any legal matters and request the police scare away the stalkers with threats.
Along with taking help of advanced software for tackling online stalking, special anti-stalking units including the Anti-stalking Cell and Cyber Cell, are also being used to address such cases. The anti-stalking unit in New Delhi and the NCR region, which already received hundreds of complaint calls, consists of five personnel including three women. Officials in the control room advise the alleged stalker to stop calling, texting or following the complainant and even after the warning if the person continues to stalk in any form, the matter is then forwarded to the officer of the concerned area.