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Project Management 101: Lessons From Police Painful 2012 Delhi Bus Rape Investigation

Delhi Crime Police Project Management TV

The recent police investigation series that I caught on Netflix – Delhi Crime simply blew my mind with its immersing project management elements that further review. Image source: India.Com

No matter what industry you are in, where you look and how you manage things, there will always be an element of project management in the tasks that is taking place and this is why military battles and police investigations become my instant interest.

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2012 Delhi Rape Case

This made news all over the world back in 2012 when a 22 years old female student was gang-raped and was tortured to death together with her male companion. Her internal intestines were pulled out by one of her rapists and this caused major trauma.

12 days later, she passed away as she was being transferred to a medical centre in Singapore.

All her rapists were promptly arrested and whilst the main suspect died through suicide before the verdicts could be delivered, the remaining adult suspects were found guilty and was hanged 3 months later. Only the youngest suspect who was a minor then was left alive and only sentenced to a short jail term.

The 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder case involved a rape and fatal assault that occurred on 16 December 2012 in Munirka, a neighbourhood in South West Delhi.

The incident took place when Nirbhaya (a name used to protect the identities of rape victims), a 22-year-old physiotherapy intern, was beaten, gang-raped, and tortured in a private bus in which she was travelling with her male friend. There were six others in the bus, including the driver, all of whom raped the woman and beat her friend.

Eleven days after the assault, she was transferred to a hospital in Singapore for emergency treatment but died two days later. The incident generated widespread national and international coverage and was widely condemned, both in India and abroad. Subsequently, public protests against the state and central governments for failing to provide adequate security for women took place in New Delhi, where thousands of protesters clashed with security forces.

All the accused were arrested and charged with sexual assault and murder. One of the accused, Ram Singh, died in police custody from possible suicide on 11 March 2013. According to some published reports, the police say Ram Singh hanged himself, but defence lawyers and his family allege he was murdered.

The rest of the accused went on trial in a fast-track court; the prosecution finished presenting its evidence on 8 July 2013. The juvenile Mohammed Afroz was convicted of rape and murder and given the maximum sentence of three years imprisonment in a reform facility, as per the Juvenile Justice Act.

On 10 September 2013, the four remaining adult defendants – Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma, Akshay Thakur and Mukesh Singh (Ram Singh’s brother) – were found guilty of rape and murder and three days later were sentenced to death. In the death reference case and hearing appeals on 13 March 2014, Delhi High Court upheld the guilty verdict and the death sentences.

On 18 December 2019, the Supreme Court of India rejected the final appeals of the condemned perpetrators of the attack. The four adult convicts were executed on 20 March 2020.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Despite the horrible case that shook the nation and changes that was made or promised to be implemented, Delhi remains the Rape Capital of India with the statistics showing that a woman is raped every 5 hours in the city. The police reported that there were 2,168 reported cases of rape in 2019, 1,618 cases in 2020 and 1,969 cases in 2021 (source).

IMDB Article 15 Hindi Movie Review

Back in 2020, I watched 2019 Article 15 on Netflix and I realised that not all Indian police movies suck and can be flushed down the toilet like Nagarjuna’s 2021 Wild Dog. Article 15 was refreshing and was well made – read the full review here. Image source: IMDB

Netflix’s Delhi Crime 2019

And last year, I watched the excellent 2018 Sacred Games acted by Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui playing the opposite side of the fence in crime excellently. The storyline was brilliant with many new changes for an Indian series but the series ended with a cliffhanger in Season 2. I truly hope they make Season 3.

And this year, I managed to catch the brilliant 2019 Delhi Crime which exclusively focussed on the 2012 Dehli Rape case and also 2021 Crime Stories: Indian Detectives which focussed on some crime in Kerala (a must-watch because it is real and not acting).

Delhi Crime is an Indian crime drama streaming television series written and directed by Richie Mehta. casting director Radhesh More and produced by Golden Karaven, Ivanhoe Productions, Film Karavan and Poor Man’s Productions Starring Shefali Shah, Rasika Dugal, Adil Hussain and Rajesh Tailang, the series is set in the aftermath of the 2012 Delhi gang rape.

After developing a 400-page script, he narrated the cast to Shefali for five minutes who accepted to play the titular character Vartika Chaturvedi. The shooting of the film took place in Delhi in January 2018 and was completed within the course of 62 days. The series covers the period from the incident happening to the final arrest of the suspects.

Delhi Crime’s first two episodes were premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in the Indie Episodic category. The series was released on Netflix on 22 March 2019. It received mostly positive responses from critics praising the script, premise and performance of the main cast members.

At the International Emmy Awards held in September 2020, Delhi Crime received the award for Outstanding Drama Series becoming the first-ever Indian series to win this award. The show was renewed for a second season with the main cast returning.

(Source: Wikipedia)

It is very rare to watch an Indian crime based movie that focuses on the actual investigation. DCP Vartika Chaturvedi played by Shefali Shah is the focal point of the series. And it is a good thing that this series is spread over 7 episodes because the investigation is really painstaking to ensure the police will have a water-tight case against the accused.

The stakeout to capture the suspects is indeed tiring and disappointing when the police missed 2 of them during the initial encounters. In some instances, I can squarely map out my project management tasks on these police investigations and I understand the dynamics of the planning and execution of the plan by the police.

Project Management Elements

Dehli Crime TV Series will make a good case study for project managers even though it may not be directly related to their industry.

Delhi Crime Indian Hindi Netflix Police DCP Vartika Chaturvedi

DCP Vartika Chaturvedi is certainly not the boss you want to face after she found that the roadblock is not probably managed. She is clear on her duties and impresses the same on her men under her charge. Image source: Vogue

Element No 1 – Have A Capable Project Manager

In this case, DCP Vartika Chaturvedi took up the lead of the team that is charged to investigate the crime and bring the 6 suspects to face their crime. She is an experienced and dedicated policewoman who knows that a slip-up in their investigation could mean the suspects walking away as free men.

She is assisted by her long time friend and subordinate, Inspector Bhupendra Singh who is a fearless and hardworking crime investigation head who care less for protocols as long as he gets his suspects.

Element No 2 – Organise Capable Project Team Members

DCP Vartika Chaturvedi put aside a 41 member crack team to handle the investigation as she knows that the inexperienced, vengeful and tired policemen at the local police station will screw up the investigations. She wants the best team to be on top of this case and there is plenty of talent & experience in this team.

Among them are:-

Sub Inspector Sudhir Kumar is put in charge staking out and arresting the suspects. It is interesting to see how he and his team introduce themselves as the suspects’ friends or long-distance relatives to get information on where the suspects could be hiding. His team is tired but does not slow down for a moment to rest. They know that they need to catch the suspects as soon as possible and they follow on all leads even though it takes nowhere.

Station House Officer (SHO) Subhash Gupta is brought in by DCP Vartika Chaturvedi to take charge of the forensics and he uses his connection to bring the best forensic team from another station to collect evidence from the crime scene and also from the bus where the rape took place. He is detailed and patient and ensures that the team goes through in detail and does not miss out on any piece of evidence.

IPS Trainee Neeti Singh is put on charge at the hospital to watch over the victim being treated for the injuries and also keep company the victim’s parents. She is alert of the situation and projects a high sense of compassion from the police force which calms the parents.

Delhi Crime Police Hindi

In Delhi Crime, DCP Vartika Chaturvedi deploys a team of 41 police officers to crack the case and ensure a water-tight case. These were cream of the cream due to the experience, connections and the drive to investigate no matter the time of the day. Inspector Bhupendra Singh is on the far left of the line. Image source: IMDB

Element No 3 – Ensure Everyone’s Objectives Is Aligned

From the start to the end, the objective or mission for the police is made clear by DCP Vartika Chaturvedi which is to arrest, investigate and ensure a watertight case against the suspects.

Under tremendous pressure faced by the police forces, it was easy for the policemen at the police station to easily take things into their own hands and it happens when some of the suspects have been arrested.

Element No 4 – Ensure Delegation of Duties To Avoid Bottlenecks

With a team of experts who handled different angles of a crime, DCP Vartika Chaturvedi quickly designate assignments for her men to take up and execute. Some handled forensics, some handled submission of evidence to the medical team, some handle the apprehension of the suspects and some handled the documentation.

Everyone knows what to do and everyone knows the reputation of the police force is at stake. They also know time is running out before the suspects get far away and they will not be able to arrest them.

Element No 5 – Ensure Proper Documentation Despite The Pressure

There is a scene in the hospital where the police have gathered the necessary evidence and just before the policeman in charge wants to send that evidence to the forensic lab, Sub-Inspector & Juvenile Welfare Officer Vimla Bhardwaj will check and noticed that the evidence is not stamped by the hospital. The policeman looked puzzled and ask if this is necessary for which Vimla Bhardwaj will look at him disapprovingly and forces the policeman to go back and get the documentation right.

Another scene where the document is shown as crucial in the investigations is where DCP Vartika Chaturvedi would review the police report done by the team and notice errors in the reports and she will ask it to be corrected.

And finally, the testimony given by the rape victim to a Magistrate at the hospital to ensure its legality and detailed so that it will stand in court even if the victim had passed away. DCP Vartika Chaturvedi stresses that the dying testimony must be taken by a court-appointed Magistrate and not by the ordinary police.

Delhi Crime Netflix Police

The pressure that the Delhi Police faced in the actual investigation back in 2012 is well portrayed in Netflix’s Delhi Crime TV series. Everyone seems to be waiting for a slip-up by the police so that they can replace the top-ranking police officers in the department. This is why the investigating officers knew that despite the pressure, they need to take their time to avoid mistakes and have a water-tight case later. Image source: IMDB

Element No 6 – Always Keep Motivation Up

For the police who are involved in the rape investigation, the key motivation is the rape victim herself. The more they understand the life-threatening injuries that she had sustained, the more determined they are in arresting and bringing the criminals to face justice.

And when they forget and complains about the food, the accommodations and being tired, they are dutifully reminded by DCP Vartika Chaturvedi.

Element No 7 – Celebrate Little Progress & Success

The police have 6 suspects to arrest and as they investigate and track these criminals, the tension and the stress builds up. But when they have a positive lead, they celebrate knowing that they are one step closer. It starts with identifying the bus where the crime took place and thereafter they connect the dots and soon they have the details.

At the end of the series, after they had arrested all the suspects and handed them over to the prison to wait for the court hearing, DCP Vartika Chaturvedi treats the team ice-cream on a cold Delhi evening. It was a nice touch of celebrations that the filmmakers added much to our delight given that we had watched 6 episodes of stressful investigation.

Element No 8 – Count On Full Support From Project Bosses

From the outset, it was clear that the Commissioner of Police, Kumar Vijay is under tremendous pressure from politicians from both sides of the administration to quickly wrap up the investigations and to also introduce measures to clean up the police force.

Kumar Vijay with a limited budget and interferences keeps up the support and motivates the team that is working on the case. He takes most of the fire from the NGOs, media and politicians so that the police team can focus on the investigation and is not get distracted.

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Final Say

Reading on how Richie Mehta who wrote and directed Delhi Crime got himself interested with the 2012 Delhi Rape Case itself was fascinating:-

Mehta decided to write a script based on the events during the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder incident. He then conceived the idea of Delhi Crime during a conversation with Neeraj Kumar, the former Commissioner of the Delhi Police, who introduced him to the investigating team and provided access to several legal documents that were prepared as part of the investigation.

Later on, Kumar asked Mehta if he would consider making a film on the case to which he denied. He then started reading the documents and was “amazed at the precision with which this case was solved, and so quickly.” He also met the officers involved in the case and was “blown away by them.”

He modeled several portrayals of the cops based on his own observations. Mehta said that the making of the series was a “personally transformative journey” for him. He spoke to several police personnel involved in the case and tried “retracing the paths that the police took during the course of the investigation”.

It took Mehta six years to finish his research, adding that the writing part of the film which began in 2014 took place for more than four years, since he had to meet the cops and had to return to Canada to put his research work altogether, which took him more time. Mehta initially wanted to make it as a feature film, but as he continued the research, he realised that he could not fit the content in that length.

(Source: Wikipedia)

It is said that the producers will be doing Season 2 of Delhi Crime and it will be interesting on what the next storyline will be.

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