Be it schools, hospitals, metro stations or any other public space, one always has the unsettling feeling of ‘being watched’. Innumerable nondescript posters and announcements in a bored voice inform us that someone is keeping an eye on us from the skies. Their effectiveness put aside, CCTV cameras seem to be very much in vogue these days.
Not one to be left behind, the hinterlands of Uttar Pradesh are picking up on this trend too. And the latest move comes from the traders’ association of Chitrakoot, wherein CCTV cameras have been installed at the local marketplace in an attempt to beef up security in the area. One camera each has been installed on the roads leading to Allahabad and Banda respectively to keep an eye on vehicles and people coming and going, and one has also been installed at the bus stop nearby.
In general, the CCTV market in India has seen a steady increase in the recent past, although a major part of it has been seen in urban areas – mostly in tier 1 and tier 2 cities. North India, in particular, dominates in market share, with the region accounting for almost half the sales in the country. In the next five years, sales are expected to grow by more than 12% in the in the country.
While the new CCTV cameras in Chitrakoot are being welcomed and even celebrated by the police and business owners alike, the mobile phone shop owner who has got them installed has become a local hero, namely Vinod Kesarwani. In addition to being the proud owner of Prince Mobile Shop of Chitrakoot market, Vinod is also the state officer of the Rashtriya Jan Udyog Vyapar Sangathan – a responsibility he takes very seriously. We interviewed the man of the hour behind all this hullabaloo. “We have installed eight cameras today – one each on Allahabad road, Banda road, and the bus stand, and the remaining five at my shop. These cameras have been installed mainly for security reasons. Every other day, you hear of some kind of theft or such incident. Cars and motorcycles are stolen, people walk away with bags of travellers waiting at the bus stand. Therefore, we decided to install these cameras. Like any business people, we are all simply looking to safeguard our interests here.”
The mood amongst other business owners and traders in the area is a peculiar mix of gratitude and envy. Sunil Jaiswal of the Chitrakoot market says, “Pickpocketing, stolen vehicles and petty thefts have practically become a daily occurring. In light of this, we are glad we will be able to keep an eye on suspicious passers-by from now on.” However, despite being grateful for the heightened security in the marketplace, one can see them longing for additional cameras to be installed at their own respective shops too. “The main copy of the footage will be available at Vinodji’s shop only. So, if and when any of us want it, we can take it from him,” says Pappu Jaiswal, another businessman operating in the Chitrakoot market.
Chitrakoot’s superintendent of police, Manoj Kumar Jha, was present for the inauguration along with other members of the local police force. Everyone was all smiles at this well-intentioned initiative by the traders of Chitrakoot. Nevertheless, this is not to take away from the fact that crime rate in Chitrakoot, and Uttar Pradesh in general, remains on a high even as these CCTV cameras are celebrated with much gusto. Ever since the Adityanath-led government came to power, there has been an alarming increase in crimes in the state. The populous northern state not only leads in the occurrence of communal incidents and heinous crimes – particularly against women, Dalits, and other minorities, but has also seen the highest number of fake encounters and custodial deaths, as per data released by the National Crime Records Bureau.
Khabar Lahariya is a rural, video-first digital news organisation with an all-women network of reporters in eight districts of Uttar Pradesh.