Why Delhi's good Samaritans are wary of stepping forward

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 05, 2013 16:32 hrs

New Delhi: There's no dearth of good Samaritans in the city, but those who wish to do good often weigh the possibility of police harassment or the chance that by aiding a stranger, one might be helping a criminal.

IANS spoke with a cross-section of people in the wake of allegations made by the friend of the Dec 16 gang-rape victim that no one came to their rescue the night of the incident, after they were dumped on the roadside. The woman had been brutally raped, while her 28-year-old software engineer friend was assaulted.

Jayant Verma, 43, says he will never forget what happened as he tried to succour an "accident victim" the night of Dec 15.

Verma says he was travelling through Ghitorni road that connects Delhi to suburb Gurgaon around midnight. He saw what appeared to be an accident site -- a couple lay on the roadside, their scooter smashed against a tree.

"I stepped outside my car to help. Just as I was about to reach the man, I saw a group of men rushing out of their place of hiding behind the bushes to nab me," Verma said.

"I turned back and sped. Some of the men followed me and hurled stones at my car," he said.

32-year-old Vivek Singh did not get away so easily.

On his way to the north campus of Delhi University last year on his motorbike, he stopped to offer a lift to a girl who said she would like to be dropped at Hindu College.

Midway, the girl took out Singh's wallet, which lay in a bag slung on his shoulder as he rode his bike. While the girl reached for his cellphone, Singh caught her red-handed.

Singh had determined to take the girl to the police station. That was when the girl ripped her shirt, accusing him of molesting her and threatening him with a case in court.

"I had no choice but to quietly go away from there," Singh told IANS.

Unfortunately, the nature of police questioning in such cases is so crude that victims would rather spare themselves embarrassment than go through the legal procedure. And if police harassment was not enough, more would be in store for those who serve as witnesses, and must face courts.

Savita Singh, 52, had once taken a neighbour to hospital after she was physically abused by her husband. The police lost no time in dragging her into a court case, and Singh was left regretting her Samaritan impulse.

"I was made a witness and had to visit the court for a whole year till the case ended. I have since decided not to meddle with such affairs," she says.

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