The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Delegates voice shock

New Delhi, Oct. 15 (PTI): Expressing shock and disgust at the rape of a European embassy official and attempted robbery on a woman Indian filmmaker near the venue of the 34th International Film Festival of India, delegates today said the incidents would not affect their film-viewing plans, but they would now be extra careful.

“I am usually very careful at night and never go out without an escort. But after this incident, I am going to be doubly careful,” said Margaret Skiba, a foreign delegate and filmmaker, reacting to the incidents last night.

The woman was dragged into her car by two unidentified young men in the parking lot near Siri Fort auditorium, the venue of the festival, after the last screening of the day and was raped before being abandoned near Safdurjung Enclave in south Delhi.

“There should be more security in the area as it is very deserted at night and when you go out after the last show, there are no policemen around and that makes it a bit scary,” said budding Malayalam actress Jyothirmayee. Her film is part of the Indian panorama section at the festival.

Definitely, there should be more security in the parking lot, Jyothirmayee added.

Noted Marathi actress Suhasini Mulay said the incidents were indeed shocking but added that they would not affect the image of the festival as people who are regulars at the event would attend it.

“Instead of being so cagey about the incident, the authorities should warn the delegates, especially those from other countries, as at an event like this people tend to lower their guard,” Mulay said, adding that the delegates have to be as careful as an Indian would be abroad.

Security was beefed up at the venue today, with a number of policemen patrolling the auditorium premises. Many delegates were, however, unaware of last night’s incidents.

A stunned wife of a French diplomat said she came to know about it from journalists. “This is really shocking, but nobody is talking about it,” said Veronique, who has been living in the capital for the last three years.

Festival director Neelam Kapoor said: “I am concerned and shocked at the incidents that have happened despite the elaborate security arrangements made by the Delhi police. We have now appealed to them to increase the security.”

“We have our own security personnel inside Siri Fort but outside it is the responsibility of the Delhi police. They have agreed to increase the number of policemen both during daytime and night. While there would be at least 60 police personnel manning the area during the day, around 100 would be there at night,” she said.

Kapoor said ample attention had been paid to security arrangements for the event. A security committee headed by a special commissioner of Delhi police had held meetings and chalked out the security for the festival in great detail, she added.

“We have had a fantastic first five days of the festival and it is unfortunate that such incidents should have happened when everything else was going smoothly,” Kapoor said.

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