Delhi Metro's knife solution poses a dangerous problem

Crime doesn't have a gender.

 |  4-minute read |   08-01-2017
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The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which is responsible for security in the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation-run network of trains, thinks the media misinterpreted its decision to allow women passengers to carry "small" knives.

After several media reports on Friday (January 6) claimed the decision was taken keeping in mind the safety of female commuters, according to an IANS report, the Metro clarified that the ban on carrying knives aboard coaches was lifted two months ago in November, and it was not for enabling women to defend themselves.

It said small knives, which women may carry to cut fruits in their tiffin boxes, show up in the scan machine while going through checks at the stations. It was only to save the time that goes into physical checks that the Metro decided to lift the ban completely.

“It usually takes one-and-a-half minute to check a tiffin box in case the scan shows a knife. On the other hand, about 8-9 lakh women passengers commute by Metro daily. Imagine the time we would end up spending checking tiffin boxes. So, we decided to lift the prohibition only for such knives,” CISF spokesperson Manjeet Singh was quoted as saying by IANS.

The security agency claimed it was found during a review for over a month that passengers’ safety is not at risk with items such as matchboxes, lighters and small knives (less than four inches).

Now, that's where the problem lies.

It doesn't matter if a woman is allowed to carry a knife to cut fruits and veggies or to chop off the fingers of a molester. In both scenarios, the fact that a weapon as deadly as a knife is allowed inside a train poses a huge threat to commuters' safety.

Violence begets violence! There has been a number of incidents in the past where victims have been overpowered by attackers and, in return, attacked with the same weapons which they were carrying for self-defence. 

Secondly, the "review" that matchboxes, lighters and small knives don't pose a threat to passengers' safety is not just a sham but worth laughing.

According to a report in The Indian Express on Sunday (January 8), disposing of lighters, matchboxes and knives was also posing a problem, with thousands piled up with the CISF over the years.

Well, it could be a problem of plenty for the CISF and the DMRC, but by what logic can anyone justify carrying knives as safe?

women-em,bed_010817071317.jpg If the women pickpockets were not using knives till now, what is the guarantee they won't use it in the future, especially when carrying one is legally allowed. (Photo: India Today)

Who will ensure that these small knives meant to cut innocuous fruits won't be used to intimidate fellow women passengers by pickpockets and other criminals?

As recently as last month, a woman managed to carry an axe inside a Delhi Metro coach and tried to attack another female commuter with it.

Crime, after all, doesn't have a gender. More so, when the CISF itself admits that it was found that 90 per cent of pickpockets in Metro were women.

“We have never found a knife on any of the women pickpockets caught so far, so we don’t think it will be a security issue,” Singh was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.

If the women pickpockets were not using knives till now, what is the guarantee they won't use it in the future, especially when carrying one is legally allowed.

CISF sources also claim the relaxations are not absolute and are "subject to a case-by-case consideration by CISF personnel for security purposes".

Now, how does the CISF propose to establish whether someone is fit/eligible to carry a knife, no matter how small, based on "case-by-case consideration"?

Had it been so easy to distinguish criminals from non-criminals, a lot of crimes, including gruesome terrorist attacks like the 26/11 one, could have been averted worldwide. 

Lastly, it also establishes the fact that the CISF (despite having 33 per cent reservation for women) can't picture a woman without having to cut veggies and fruits irrespective of her professional capacity, even if it means doing it while travelling or sitting at the workplace.

Also read: Why I spy on people reading books on the Delhi Metro

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