#Opinion

‘Dense Fog’ Or ‘Limited Street Lights’: Delhi Car-Drag Probe Raises Questions On Road Safety

delhi car-drag horror
When 20-year-old Anjali Singh, who worked at an event company, left for home after working all night on the 31st, little did she know that there is going to be no new year for her. The sole breadwinner of a family of seven including an ailing mother lost her life in a gruesome road accident. The accident shook the entire country, in a horrific incident, she was dragged by five men in a car for 10 kilometres on January 1.

As per the autopsy report, Anjali’s body reportedly had 40 grievous injuries, her skull open, and her spine was left fractured. There are so many elements to the accident that raises questions of whom to be blamed. The five accused were reportedly inebriated that they could drive for several km, dragging a woman by their car and being not aware of it. Or the driver, who hit the woman’s two-wheeler. The accused never bothered to stop and check, instead drove away. Secondly, her friend witnessed the accident, but instead of crying for help, she chose to go home. Both left her to die as they were more worried about themselves than saving another person. No one knows how much she must have suffered. That’s where the insensitivity hits in. With the death of Singh, it was the death of humanity. Singh was the only hope for her family to rise out of poverty. How heart wrecking must it be for her mother and other family members, thinking of it breaks my heart.

Delhi Car-Drag Horror: Who failed Anjali Singh?

However, amidst all this, where were the police? Are the accused or the friend to be blamed for her death or the police who failed to find the car, despite knowing about the accident? The body was dragged over 10 km between Sultanpuri and Kanjhawala in Outer Delhi, as per a report. Between this stretch, at least five PCR calls were made. Even a second eyewitness at a U-turn point informed the police. Police also claimed at least 10 vehicles including PCR vans and night patrolling units were tracking the grey Baleno but due to dense fog, couldn’t spot it.

Why police couldn’t be upbeat enough to nab the car. New year’s eve being the most patrolled night of the year, how could police miss something like this? The Delhi Police had said 18,000 police personnel and outside companies were being deployed to check violations, yet this horrendous accident took place. Despite heavy security in place, how law enforcement failed to notice it? What does this accident mean to other women? How safe are streets and mobility in the country, be the person on a moped, car, or walking? Road safety is a big issue in India and the biggest for the most vulnerable, but it has been neglected for a longer time. According to the World Bank’s data from 2019, India ranked first among the top 20 countries for road accidents.

This is not about gender alone, for women it does come with multiple challenges, especially at night when streets become more aloof, and unfriendly for women to commute. This is also about inclusivity in road safety and road infrastructure. For instance- often street lights are not in a working state, in the case of Singh as per the Indian Express report, street lights in one of the patches of the accident spots, streetlights were not working. The road infrastructure generally caters to the need of male commuters but women are missed out on it. The World Bank’s report also confirmed that women’s travel patterns can be different due to their caregiving roles, but the current system fails to address it. This too restricts women’s mobility. One might have come across a female friend who asks to drop when it has become too dark outside. Or in some cases, women at night only go out if accompanied by a male partner. The reason is not that she is scared of going alone, but this constant alertness that something can go wrong. Where does this come from? Women are well-aware of how empty streets at night be it on a moped or by walking could be dangerous. It comes from a fear of violence and patriarchal socio-cultural norms. This also impacts participation in the workforce.

Reportedly, India has the highest rate of fatality in road accidents and crime against women in public places. It is time to make these streets safer in terms of both accidents and crime. With this lot, many issues of women could be solved. Not only the issues, but the mindset of people can also change.

Views expressed by author are their own


Suggested Reading: Delhi Woman, Dragged By Car, Was With Friend Who Fled Spot: 10 Things To Know

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