Women's safety tops agenda of new Delhi police chief

NEW DELHI (AFP) - The new police chief of India's capital said on Wednesday that his top priority was making the city safer for women after the fatal gang-rape of a student sparked violent protests.

Commissioner Bhim Sain Bassi said he wanted to ensure women "feel safe anywhere, anytime" in New Delhi, often dubbed India's "rape capital" by local media and home to nearly 17 million people.

"Women's safety is our topmost priority. We will do everything possible to ensure the safety of women," he said at a news conference.

The force has been under scrutiny since the Dec 16 attack on a physiotherapy student on a moving bus in Delhi, which brought widespread anger about endemic sex crime to the boil.

The incident highlighted the appalling safety record of Delhi, which had more than twice as many cases of crime against women in 2011 as the commercial hub Mumbai.

With women being encouraged to come forward and report crime, rape complaints jumped 148 per cent between January 1 and March 24 this year from the same period in 2012, police records show.

Women in Delhi have been demanding better street lighting, safer transport and changes in the way they are treated at home and outside.

Bassi also defended an advertisement issued on Tuesday by Delhi police which encouraged readers to donate to a police fund to help homeless children before they turn to crime.

The advert in The Times of India showed a photo of a boy with a caption that read: "Help him learn how to chop an onion. Before someone teaches him how to chop a head".

"One should not go just by the wordings of the advert," the new police chief said. "It's a thoughtful ad which is trying to urge parents to inculcate the right values in children so that they do not deviate from the right path."

The Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights has slammed the police for being "insensitive" in their portrayal of children.

"The advertisement that the police has released is really, really in bad taste," commission chief Arun Mathur told AFP.

"By saying that, make the child learn how to chop an onion, you are suggesting child labour which is totally unacceptable. You are diminishing the dignity of the child by doing this," he said.

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