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Delhi Police chief has asked by a parliamentary panel over the gang-rape incident in the capital and pointed out deficiencies like vacancies at officer level and lack of vehicles to patrol the streets.

Before the Parliamentary Standing Committee, Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar appeared on Home to face questions on ‘growing atrocities against women in Delhi’.

Home Secretary R K Singh, who was also to appear before the panel, could not attend the meeting. Kumar informed the panel about the sequence of events of the incident and said the police control room vans reacted “promptly” after receiving the phone call about the crime.

He is learnt to have told the committee that police investigations helped nab the accused within days of the December 16 gang-rape.

During the course of the Police Commissioner’s deposition, Congress member Sandeep Dikshit, who had recently demanded the resignation of Kumar in the wake of police action against protesters on Sunday, is understood to have said there was a disconnect between officers sitting in rooms and those on the ground.

He said that officials below Station House Officer rank act on their own giving little regard to orders from superiors.

Dikshit is the son of Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit who had been demanding that the Delhi Police be brought under the control of the city government. The Delhi Police is under the direct control of the Home Ministry.

Some members said that police vehicles were not being replaced as the Finance Ministry was not releasing funds, according to sources.

They said two old PCR vans withdrawn from service used to be positioned in the area where the incident was reported from.

The committee also observed that several vacancies of officers in the Delhi Police have not been filled and asked the Home Ministry to respond to the issue in writing.

When the committee was discussing paucity of women constables in the force, Kumar is learnt to have said that more women constables will be recruited.

The committee will meet again on January 4 when Kumar will provide a written response to questions which could not be answered today.

Meanwhile, committee chairman M Venkaiah Naidu informed the members that the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, introduced in Lok Sabha during the Winter Session, would be referred to the panel soon.

The bill seeks to amend the Indian Penal Code, 1860, the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, by replacing the word ‘rape’ by the words ‘sexual assault’ to make the offence of sexual assault gender neutral and also widening its scope.

It also seeks to make acid attack a specific offence and enhance the punishment.

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