NEW DELHI, India: A vague sense of unease has settled over South Delhi following the string of murders last month.

“My dog is totally domesticated. I am teaching it to bark now,” said a resident of Hemkund Colony, where an old woman had been done to death by her servant.


In Dhaula Kuan, where Mrs. Aliamma Mathai, an Air Force officer’s wife, was slain by a family friend, a large iron gate outside the colony remains shut. The military police guard on duty opens it only after identification of the visitors.

Mr. P.S. Sandhu, whose wife was stabbed to death in South Extension, has decided to send his young daughter away to his village in Punjab. He feels Punjab is safer than Delhi. He has replaced his’ wooden door with an iron one, “We can only take individual precautions,” he said.

Meanwhile, police presence in these areas has become more visible. Policemen on foot and in vans can be seen moving around at all times of night and day, residents said, “But too much security, after all, reflects our sense of insecurity”, said Mr. Gurbachan Singh, a resident of Hemkunt.

Mrs. Savita Sharma, a widow, who stays with her son and daughter in law close to where Mrs. Sandhu was killed, says she calls relatives over whenever her son is away. She says her young servant boy has strict instructions not to open the door to any stranger. “But what can you do if someone you trust decides to kill you”, she said, referring to the Dhaula Kuan murder, where family friend did the killing.

The police, however, say that nothing has changed in South Delhi, “People don’t even come forward for the servant verification scheme”, said an official from Kotla Mubarakpur police station, which is investigating the South Extension murder. “We have to send our own men to people’s houses to take photographs of the servants.”

To this, a resident said, “As it is, it is impossible to find a servant in South Delhi. They’ll run away if we insist On police verification.

Article extracted from this publication >> February 12, 1988