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Mumbai – Journalist sexually assaulted ,four arrested #Vaw

Mumbai: Months after a photojournalist was gangraped in Mumbai’s Shakti Mills, another woman journalist has alleged molestation while covering an event in the financial capital of India.

The journalist has alleged that a group of men molested her while she was on an assignment on Monday on the occasion of Holi. She said that the accused misbehaved with her and even beat up her crew members.

Police today arrested four men for allegedly molesting a woman journalist working with a news channel and assaulting a cameraman who was accompanying her.

“We have arrested four persons, while about 30 to 40 others are wanted,” a police officer said.

The incident happened in suburban Andheri when the journalist and the cameraman were returing in their office vehicle from a shoot and the accused had allegedly blocked the road.

The accused have been booked for unlawful assembly, molestation, rioting and criminal intimidation under the Indian Penal Code, the officer said.

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Custodians of law or death- Chembur resident dies in police custody

Sunday, February 23, 2014 – 06:00 IST | Place: Mumbai, Little yadav and  Manish Pathak


Police torture in custody is common knowledge. In Maharashtra, at least 20 people have died in custody in the past five years. The latest: a Chembur resident dying of injuries in hospital on Thursday.

About a week ago, Trombay police arrested Sachin Dhage on bootlegging charges. Though Dhage died in hospital, the circumstances that led to his death are shrouded in mystery. The crime branch of the Mumbai police is investigating the role of Trombay police.

Dhage’s sister Nanda said he told her in hospital how the police tortured him mercilessly while he was in custody. “My brother was a regular drinker, but he was not involved in bootlegging,” she said. “He was framed by some policemen who wanted to save the real bootlegger. These policemen thrashed my brother and forced him to accept his supposed involvement. He suffered an epileptic attack during torture and probably bit his tongue. He had several injury marks on his body.”

Dhage was shifted from Sion hospital to a private hospital in Kharghar where he died.

This is not a case in isolation. On January 22, Mohammad Jafar Shaikh, 22, who was lodged in Arthur Road jail, died on his way to JJ hospital after he complained of chest pain. Shaikh’s family refused to take his body for final rites, alleging he died of police torture. Shaikh and his brother were arrested in a theft case and remanded in judicial custody.

In the last week of January, Pankaj Singh, 25, hanged himself in a toilet inside Taloja prison, leaving behind a suicide note accusing a Mumbai police officer of harassing him. Singh, a resident of Dahisar, was in the prison for a week after he was remanded in judicial custody in an extortion case. Police said a similar case has been registered against him in Mulund.

In January 2003, Aurangabad resident Khwaja Yunus died in the Mumbai crime branch’s custody. He was arrested in connection with the December 2002 bomb blast in a BEST bus in Ghatkopar.

Following his custodial death, a few high-profile police officers were arrested and the Bombay High Court observed that Yunus was murdered in custody. The court even ordered the government to compensate Yunus’ mother.

“The Supreme Court has repeatedly expressed its anguish on the growing number of custodial deaths in various parts of the country,” Majid Memon, senior criminal lawyer, said. “According to the law, custodial deaths are perhaps the worst crime committed in a civilised society governed by the rule of law.”

Memon said the gravity of custodial deaths is much higher than any other case of murder because the death is caused by the custodians of law. “Therefore in any custodial death proved beyond considerable doubt, the SC suggests that such cases should be treated at par with the rarest of rare cases… the punishment for such offences should be death rather than life imprisonment,” Memon said.

A senior Mumbai police officer said the police have been asked to be extra cautious while interrogating suspects in custody.


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#Sundayreading – Evolution of the Mumbai underground: gunrunning to realty

Presley Thomas , Hindustan Times
February 23, 2014 

In January this year, police officers monitoring a murder case stumbled upon a gangster’s phone conversation. He was sorting out a family dispute over a multi-crore property in the central suburbs.

His intervention would earn him a considerable amount of money, and ensure that he doesn’t have resort to extortion or bloodshed.


“If a gangster manages to solve a Rs100-crore dispute, he gets a minimum 10% of the property value. This way he does not need to indulge in petty crime,” said a police officer.

After a bloody decade in the ’90s, the fabric of the underworld changed. The ruthless and brash gangsters who had replaced the old dons and their ‘work ethics’, toned down their activities. Instead of contract killings and extortion, they got involved in the corporate sector, especially real estate.

The new generation of gangsters took over the reins in the 1990s from the likes of Karim Lala, Haji Mastan and Vardharajan Mudaliar, who had built their empires based on trust and mutual respect.

This marked an end of an era of the ‘sophisticated dons’, and the beginning of a ruthless and brash brand of gangsters who had to be cut to size with equal ruthlessness.

If the Pathan gang was blood thirsty, they met their match in Dawood Ibrahim, son of a constable. The first blow was struck by the Pathans when Samad Khan killed Dawood’s brother Shabir.

But Dawood had the last laugh. He planned out strikes against Samad and Amirzada and killed them. Alamzeb was killed in a police encounter in Gujarat.

This was the start of the change in the underworld. It was also the beginning of corporate underworld, where people would keep guns in their drawer and earn money through investments, said crime branch officials.

Dawood, unlike other gangsters, ensured that his men were carefully chosen. A trait his aide-turned-arch rival Chhota Rajan inherited. “The men they chose in the ’80s and ’90s showed unflinching loyalty, and were willing to die for them. Especially because these gangsters took care of their men and families,” said a crime branch officer.

But the bloodbath on the streets of Mumbai in the 1990s with gangs wresting for control, the rivalry between Dawood and Rajan, saw the Mumbai police unleash the encounter squad.

One by one the sharpshooters were chased down and killed. The police’s crackdown saw the gangsters call for peace, and even divide their area of operation.

This, however, didn’t put an end to them targeting the rich and famous. In 1997, producer Gulshan Kumar was killed. Later in 1998, six Sena workers were killed in mafia attacks, and two attempts were made on the life of Mumbai’s former mayor Milind Vaidya in 1998 and 1999.

From 1995, the incidents of gang-related violence rose four-fold by 1998. This made the state enact the stringent MCOCA, which helped the police decimate the underworld’s control to a large extent.

The crackdown saw the gangs spill over to Thane and Navi Mumbai, and also to the districts of Pune and Nashik. Also, it forced gangsters to get into agreements to keep their activities alive.

A large part of the plot was given out with the arrest of gangster Santosh Shetty in 2011. He had bared Dawood’s plot to cut Chhota Rajan to size.

Police now believes there would have been an understanding between Dawood and Ashwin Naik to control the realms of Arun Gawli, who has been in prison since 2008. “In the underworld, there are no permanent friends or enemies. They work on the belief that an enemy’s enemy is a friend,” said a senior police officer, monitoring the underworld.

Except for the strained Dawood–Chhota Rajan relationship, today the underworld thrives on such understandings. There are hardly any killings and the extortion rates have gone down, the police said. “Gangsters know that gunrunning and extortion will not help them sustain. They have trained their guns on the real estate market,” said an officer.

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Rakesh Maria- Controversial cop media darling

When Rakesh Maria, took over as the Police Commissioner the media did not rake up any of the major controversies associated with him, points out JYOTI PUNWANI. PIX: Rakesh Maria
Posted/Updated Wednesday, Feb 19 19:04:02, 2014,

Jyoti  Punwani

The new police commissioner of Mumbai, Rakesh Maria, is easily the city’s most controversial cop. But going by newspaper reports of his appointment, you wouldn’t know it. Only the Indian Express and The Hindu mentioned a few of the controversies related to him.

The most damning indictment of Maria came after the November 26, 2008 terror attacks on Mumbai, in which three of the city’s senior cops were killed in a by-lane behind the Police Commissioner’s office. Maria was on duty in that office at that time, in charge of the control room. The three cops lay in that by-lane bleeding for 40 minutes, after having been shot by two of the 10 gunmen who’d taken over the city.

Vinita Kamte, wife of Additional Police Commissioner Ashok Kamte who was killed there, conducted her own investigation into her husband’s death, after she failed to get answers from the Mumbai police. In fact, when she applied under the RTI for her husband’s mobile phone call records, the application was rejected with a note by Maria saying: “Please reject the information sought by Mrs Vinita Kamte under the RTI Act. The information cannot be given to her under Sec 8 (h) of the said Act.”

What Mrs Kamte found when she could finally access the Log Book of calls made to and from the Control Room that night formed the basis of her book: To the Last Bullet. The book showed that it was Maria who had summoned her husband to Cama Hospital (located behind the Police Commissioner’s office) where two terrorists had entered. Yet, when she specifically asked him if he had done so, he replied, “I don’t know.”

Vinita Kamte’s book also showed that the three officers had sent several SOSes to the control room, asking for reinforcements to stop the terrorists who had left the hospital. But none came. Vinita got no explanation for this. Her allegations were substantiated by the facts that emerged from the cross-examination of policemen during the trial of the only surviving gunman, Ajmal Kasab. Her book further showed that residents who saw the officers lying injured in the by-lane called the Control Room, yet no help came for 40 minutes. Three police vans passed by without stopping during that time.

Among the three cops killed that night was Hemant Karkare, then head of Maharashtra’s ATS. Karkare had just unearthed the hand of Abhinav Bharat, a Hindutva hardline group, behind the September 2008 Malegaon blasts. A serving military officer, Lt Col Srikant Purohit, and a sadhvi with strong RSS links, Pragya Singh Thakur, had been arrested for the blasts. Karkare’s mysterious death coming soon after these arrests continues to arouse suspicion. While the allegation (made in secularist and Muslim quarters) that Karkare was killed by the RSS under cover of the 26/11 attacks, is far-fetched, the lack of answers to why the three cops fell like sitting ducks despite being in the vicinity of the Police Commissioner’s office, and  having sent SOSes continuously, makes the official version suspect. Maria is the man who could explain this.

But he has steadfastly refused to do so. After Vinita Kamte’s allegations which got huge coverage, Maria threatened to resign. The Maharashtra government stuck by him, and played its own dubious role by refusing to table the Ram Pradhan inquiry report into police conduct on 26/11. Maria had apparently given his version to Pradhan.

But the stink was so strong that for the media, at least, the name Maria should immediately conjure up Vinita Kamte, 26/11, Hemant Karkare. Yet, no English paper made this connection while reporting his appointment.

Maria has been associated with other major controversies. Two years after the ATS had supposedly cracked the serial train bomb blasts that took place in Mumbai in July 2006, Maria, head of the Crime Branch, came up with an entirely new set of accused: the Indian Mujahideen. One Sadiq Shaikh, arrested by the Crime Branch, had “confessed’’ that the IM was behind the Mumbai train blasts, not the 13 men arrested by the ATS.

So thanks to Maria, Mumbai had at the same time, two sets of accused for the same crime. But the ATS found no merit in Sadiq Shaikh’s claim, and let him be discharged from the case. Later, Shaikh retracted his confession, alleging torture by the Crime Branch.

The 13 original accused are still rotting in jail. They too had been tortured, and the torture stopped only after the PMO intervened. Who actually set off the bombs that killed 187, Mumbai citizens may never know, thanks to the cynical rivalry between the heads of the Crime branch and the ATS.

Again, no mention was made of this huge controversy while reporting Maria’s appointment as Police Commissioner.

In 2008, the name of Abdus Subhan Qureishi or Tauqeer was being mentioned by various police officers across the country as the “Osama Bin Laden of India’’. The mysterious Tauqeer was alleged to be behind the disturbing number of blasts that had taken place in quick succession in 2008, in Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat, AP…. But Maria, in the same press conference where he presented Sadiq Shaikh as the mastermind of the Mumbai train blasts, dismissed Tauqeer as ‘media-creation’.  In one stroke, he felled the speculation that top cops of various states had been making. No journalist dared to publish the latter’s reaction to Maria’s remarks.

Soon after came another major gaffe, in which then Home Minister Chidambaram too was embarrassed: the arrest of Yasin Bhatkal’s brother Abdul Samad for the German Bakery bomb blast, that took place in Pune in February 2010, killing 17. Maria had just been appointed head of the state ATS. . Arrested in an arms case as soon as he landed from Dubai, Samad was immediately linked to the German Bakery blast. Chidambaram congratulated the ATS for having cracked the case. Unfortunately for the ATS, Samad could prove that he was attending a wedding miles away in Bhatkal on the day the Pune blasts took place. To make matters worse for the ATS, Samad was acquitted in the arms case within two months, with the judge finding no evidence against him. In its charge sheet in the German Bakery blast case, the ATS made no mention of him.

This wasn’t the only questionable arrest in the German Bakery case. Maria had told the press that Himayat Baig, hailing from Udgir, had accompanied the main bomber Yasin Bhatkal, to the Bakery. However, ATS Additional Commissioner Ravindra Kadam asserted that Baig had not visited Pune on that day. The next day, Kadam had to recant. Soon after, he was transferred to the Naxalite belt of Gadchiroli, a punishment posting. Interestingly, after the elusive Yasin Bhatkal was arrested last year, he revealed that Himayat Baig, who had by then been sentenced to death by the trial court, was innocent. In a letter to the High Court registrar, Baig alleged that the ATS tortured him into confessing his crime, and asked that the NIA be handed over the German Bakery case. So again, it remains a mystery as to who was responsible for the German Bakery blast.

One of Maria’s biggest  defeats was when the special court trying Ajmal Kasab acquitted two Indians Fahim Ansari and Sabauddin Ahmed, of the charge of having helped the 26/11 Pakistani bombers. Their acquittal was upheld by the Supreme Court.

The Bombay High Court once mulled serving a contempt notice to Maria. As the joint commissioner crime, he had declared in a press conference that two Muslims who had been arrested, were aides of gangster Chhota Shakeel, and were on a mission to kill the lawyers of Sadhvi Pragya (who was in jail in Mumbai then). However, their remand applications spoke only of them trying to commit dacoity. When questioned about the assassination allegation by the court, Maria’s lawyer denied that Maria had said anything of the sort. But the media had quoted Maria to this effect.

Why should a police officer describe two petty criminals as communally motivated assassins?

Just last month, two arms dealers arrested in another case and then charged with the murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar, told the court that Maria had offered them Rs 25 lakh to plead guilty, and that they were being tortured by the ATS. A week later, they recanted, saying they had made the allegations in “a fit of rage”.

Interestingly, the Afternoon Despatch and Courier, describing the arrest of one of the arms dealers as an  “ATS breakthrough’’ in the Dabholkar case, ended the report with these comments: “If the Dabholkar case is solved by the ATS soon, then the decks are practically clear for Maria to become the Mumbai police chief, if IPS cadres are to be believed. He is anyway rather a favourite for the post, given his track record of achievements and his showing while heading the ATS. The recent arrest of Indian Mujahideen (IM) operative Afzal Usmani, who had escaped from a city court, by the state ATS has further made him a favourite in the eyes of the political bigwigs who hold the reins of selection to this all-important post in their hands.”

Alas! Dabholkar’s family is not impressed by this super-cop. This week, they were allowed to intervene in a PIL asking that the case be handed over to the CBI.

It is true that all accused cry torture; but the controversies surrounding Maria go beyond such routine allegations. All of them have been widely reported. Yet, when he was chosen as the Commissioner, only three were mentioned, and that too only by theIndian Express and The Hindu. The reason for such restraint may lie in “Maria’s darbar”, reportedly held in his cabin every evening. Tehelka’s Rana Ayyub described it as the site where “his department feeds the press stories of its gallantry which find their way into the newspapers the next day.” Maria has always been a media darling. Black Friday had the sexy Kay Kay Menon play Maria as a tough yet sensitive cop, who inspires respect despite torturing innocent Muslims.

Interestingly, Muslim websites don’t seem to share this perception. ‘Muslim Mirror’ announced Maria’s appointment thus: “Anti-Muslim cop Rakesh Maria is new Mumbai Police Chief.’’ The report mentions two controversial aspects of the German Bakery probe: the “implication” of Himayat Baig and  the killing of suspected terrorist Qateel Siddiqui in Pune’s Yerwada Jail in 2012. Siddiqui had been handed over to the Maharashtra ATS by the Delhi police who wanted to probe his role in two terror cases: the German Bakery case and the planting of a bomb outside Pune’s famous Dagduseth temple on the same day. He was in judicial custody when he was killed. Later “ATS sources” said that a “patriotic” Hindu don may have had him killed.

Of course, the Muslim media characterises all arrests of Muslims on terror charges as false and communally-motivated, believing that either the RSS or the IB or both are behind all bomb blasts. But it can’t be denied that many innocent Muslims’ lives have been ruined after having been wrongly arrested as suspected terrorists. The coverage of Maria’s appointment once again shows how the English media fails to include the viewpoint of the country’s largest minority, even though it reports on this minority all the time.

Another example of this exclusion was the coverage of the dramatic entry into the BJP of Maria’s predecessor, Satyapal Singh. Singh was appointed as Mumbai’s Police Commissioner under sensational circumstances. The then Commissioner Arup Patnaik was kicked upstairs after the English press and opposition leaders bayed for his blood because of his restrained handling of a mob of Muslims who attacked the media and police without provocation in August 2012. Apparently, the NCP was waiting to push Satyapal Singh into the top post. That Singh was Sharad Pawar’s man was reported. But when he left to join the BJP, only the Mumbai Mirror and The Hindu pointed out his special links with the BJP. In 2011, he had been the Central government’s nominee to the SIT set up to probe the Ishrat Jahan encounter. Singh recused himself within a few days.

Maria’s appointment saw two contenders for the Commissioner’s post, Ahmed Javed and Vijay Kamble, go on leave. Both were vocal about having been by-passed despite their seniority. The media reported their resentment, and also the signals sent out by by-passing a Dalit contender to the top post. But not a word was written about the signal sent out by by-passing a Muslim contender. Guess that story too, had to be told by the Muslim media.

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AAP open to corporate funding, says Meera Sanyal

Virendrasingh Ghunawat  Mumbai, February 19, 2014 |

Former banker Meera Sanyal who contesting from the Mumbai South Lok Sabha seat on an AAP ticket against Congress’ Milind Deora, has said her party is open to corporate funding but with no quid pro quo.


Former banker Meera Sanyal

Excerpts of her exclusive interview to


Q: Give us highlights of the AAP’s economic policy?

A: What is holding back Indian entrepreneurs is that they are not able to do business. If you want to start a business, run it, or shut it, it has become difficult. So the first thing we want to do is simplify the environment, make it transparent, make it accountable so that honest business can thrive and flourish.

Q: Have you decided any sector-specific manifesto?

A: There is a lot of misunderstanding about where the AAP stands. A lot of people feel the AAP is against business. We are not against business; we are against dishonest business. We are not against free market; we are against crony capitalism. So that is the distinction.

We believe Indians are very hardworking, very entrepreneurial and very innovative. They don’t need charity.

Coming to specifics, what is our fiscal, agricultural policy etc… that is still work in progress. So what Arvind (Kejriwal) outlined yesterday (Monday) at the CII is the vision and principle that is driving the economy policy of the AAP.

Q: Do you believe tax slabs for the rich are one of the lowest in the world? Should it be increased, should some of exemptions? Relief and rebates should be removed?

A: What is happening with the taxation system? There is a lot of harassment. That’s leading to corruption. Let’s simplify the system, which is not different than DTC which is not placed but talks are going on since the last five years. Our exact tax policy is still being worked out.

Q: Are we living in a corrupt system?

A: Indians are most generous, most decent and most honest in the world…starting from villages to cities. But the system has been corrupt. It’s corruption by compulsion…either by need or greed. I think we could bring in technology to empower and simplify our system. Our economic policy will focus on e-enabling the system, like online passport, IRCTC, IT returns, etc., due to which corruption will reduce. And most important is deterrence and punishing the guilty.

Q: Would you accept corporate funding? I believe AAP’s senior members are in town to meet business leaders in a closed-door meeting. How would you know funding coming in is from an honest corporate house or a dishonest one?

A: One principle is we will accept donations by cheque. And even if we accept it by cash, it would be stated on the website. The issue with corporate funding is if it is hidden and non-transparent, then nobody knows why money was given.

Than you come to me when I am elected and ask please given me this mining licence… that’s where the problem is. So, there is nothing wrong with corporate funding…but it is quid pro quo we are against. We will be completely transparent. That’s our idea.

Q: So no favouritism?

A: Absolutely not. If you believe in the AAP, believe in your country and believe this party is right for the country, please help us. We do need that help. Elections are expensive business. We would value corporates coming and working with us. Let’s create an environment that honest business can flourish.

Q: Does Mukesh Ambani decide policies at the Centre as Arvind Kejirwal claims?

A: I think Arvind was quite explicit about what he said, that lots of things we are talking about are already in the public domain in the Niira Radia tapes. Those are tapes; those are factuals; they are stated. Those are words of the people themselves. Those are not our words. So I think we have to take that at face value.

We are looking for an India where there is equality of opportunity. The problem with crony capitalism is if you are entrepreneur and even I am, then what should succeed is hard work and better ideas. What should not succeed is ‘I have contacts’. Let’s create a level-playing field; let’s create transparency and let’s create accountability. Then whether you are Ambani or any other person, there is a level-playing field. Everyone will have equal chance. That’s what we want.

Q: Do you think the AAP is creating a divide between a few good people, such as quoting names like Azim Premji and N.R. Narayana Murthy, and a few bad people in the corporate world.

A: I believe business runs in our blood. Indians succeed in every given circumstances outside India and drive the economy. But the real question is why it does not happen in India. I don’t think we should take names of who are good businessmen or bad businessmen. Let it just say we want honest business.


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Mumbai- #goodnews Victims of sexual assault need not visit police stations #Vaw

Mumbai Mirror | Feb 20, 2014, 

Victims of sexual assault need not visit police stations
Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria plans to use dummy complainants to check how quickly his officers respond to grievances
Mumbai Mirror Bureau

The new police commissioner says the victims should dial 103, following which a woman cop will visit their homes to register complaints.

In his first major decision after taking charge as the city’s police commissioner, Rakesh Maria has said that women victims of sexual assault need not visit police stations. The victims can now dial 103, following which a woman officer will visit their residences to register a complaint.

On Sunday, after taking charge, Maria said the safety of women and senior citizens, and zero tolerance towards street crimes, were a few of his priorities.

In cases of sexual assault, the already traumatised victims are forced to spend hours at police stations recording statements.

Last year, the gang rape of a photojournalist at the Shakti Mills compound shocked the city, following which it came to light that less than a month before the incident, some of the accused had also raped a teenage telephone operator at the premises.

“Many cases of sexual assault are not reported because the victims don’t want to visit police stations. They are already traumatised, and spending hours recounting the horror only adds to the agony. Hence, we decided to provide them an option to file a complaint at their residences,” Maria said.

In another major citizen-friendly initiative, the police commissioner said jurisdiction will no longer matter when it comes to complaints regarding someone going missing. For instance, the family of a person gone missing can file a complaint at any police station in the city.

“We are confident of putting the infrastructure in place to provide citizens with such facilities. The Mumbai police is extremely concerned about the safety of women, children and the elderly. We will also ensure street crime is curbed. These initiatives are a result of discussions with the officers,” Maria said.

The police commissioner also announced the launch of a ‘fast counter desk’ at all police stations, exclusively for women and senior citizens. “Every time a woman or a senior citizen visits a police station, they will be directed to the fast counter desk, where their grievances will be addressed immediately,” he said.

Maria, who spent many years handling the state Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), has an innovative idea to curb street crime: he has asked police stations across the city, and the Crime Branch, to draw up a list of 10 most dreaded history-sheeters from each area, and details of how they were being monitored.

“There will be a fortnightly review of all our initiatives, and any cop found not up to the mark will be dealt with. Several history-sheeters, including drug peddlers, are on our radar,” Maria said.

Already, the Mumbai police has increased patrolling near schools and colleges, shopping malls and railway stations, he said, adding that safe Mumbai was his number one priority.

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Street Children – Salaam Mumbai – #Sundayreading


A report by ActionAid and the Tata Institute of Social Sciences highlights the vulnerability and tragic living conditions of thousands of children who take shelter in Mumbai’s streets. By ANUPAMA KATAKAM

IN 1988, the acclaimed film-maker Mira Nair made Salaam Bombay!, a poignantly revealing film on street children in Mumbai. The plot revolves around the protagonist, Krishna or “Chaipau”, who is kicked out of his home by his mother for having damaged his brother’s bicycle and is told he can come back only if he can make good the loss. He is abandoned by the travelling circus he joins. In desperation, he comes to Mumbai with nothing more than a few rupees and is robbed of it immediately. With nowhere to go and no one to help him, he lives on the streets. Abused and beaten, Krishna eventually finds protection under a drug pusher who finds him work as a tea boy. After a failed attempt at theft, Krishna lands in a juvenile centre. He escapes, but it is not a happy ending. Krishna goes back to the world of petty crime, drugs and prostitution hoping that he will return to his mother some day.

Twenty-five years hence not much has changed. A report titled “Making Street Children Matter”, based on a first-time census of street children in Mumbai conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) and ActionAid, a non-governmental organisation, estimates that in 2013 there were 37,059 street children who continued to face the same brutality that Krishna witnessed. The census exposes the vulnerability and tragic living conditions of thousands of children who take shelter in the city’s streets.

It finds that almost 24 per cent of the children are illiterate; 15 per cent are addicted to drugs; 40 per cent have witnessed and/or experienced some form of abuse; and almost 24 per cent are engaged in activities such as begging, doing odd jobs, ragpicking and construction work.



The report brings out many disturbing facts on child labour, illiteracy, physical and sexual abuse, and forced starvation. The report, in its conclusion, states that it was “a very challenging exercise but worthwhile as it may have broken a few myths and raised some questions about the magnitude of the issue”.

It acknowledges that these problems can be traced to larger issues of poverty, unemployment, migration, discrimination, and so on. “After the 2011 Census data was released, we found that the urban population grew much more than the rural. Much of the population growth was due to distress migration, and people living on the streets were a result of this distress. Children on the streets are a structural problem and that spurred us to conduct this census,” said Alex George from ActionAid.

“The idea of a census is to present the hard numbers. The State often dismisses a sample survey saying it’s not indicative of a larger problem. A census they take seriously. The Maharashtra government has accepted our recommendations in toto,” he said.

“Mumbai being the commercial capital of the country, the findings from the study would help [us] understand processes of marginalisation of vulnerable groups in mega cities,” said Vijay Raghavan from the Centre of Criminology and Justice at TISS.

“Governments respond only when you show [them] a number. I believe this number is still conservative because we had to follow a certain methodology. But we captured the number to the extent we could. The recommendations emerging from the study need to be taken forward by the government and civil society through advocacy efforts,” he said.

The methodologyRaghavan explained that a quantitative research design was adopted for the study. It had two parts: a census and a sample survey of 728 children. The first part included a headcount of street children living in Mumbai as per the most widely used United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) definition of street children. UNICEF classifies street children under three categories: (i) children who run away from their families and live on their own; (ii) street working children who spend most of their time on the streets fending for themselves but return home on a regular basis; and (iii) street family children who live on the streets with their families.

A tool was designed to secure details such as age, sex, category of the child vis-a-vislocation, health status, education, disability and addiction. The survey was based on structured interviews that sought information about socio-economic status, education, work, and family background. This was crucial in understanding the reasons for children living on the streets and made the report comprehensive, said Raghavan. Because of the nature of this population, the census had to be conducted very quickly. Close to 100 enumerators had to fan out across the metropolis and do the headcount within three days. If there was a gap, the chances of a double count would occur as the children moved constantly, said Raghavan.



A total of 36,154 children were found across 25 wards of Mumbai and another 905 children were found along the city’s railway tracks, taking the overall total to 37,059. The highest number of street children—2,802 (7.75 per cent)—were found in S-Ward; D-Ward was next, with 2,312 (6.39 per cent).

The report says there is a direct correlation between the political economy of the wards and the population of street children. For instance, the two most populated wards are mostly commercial areas with a bustling, robust informal economy such as marketplaces, railway lines, bus depots, construction sites and places of worship.

It says that almost 65 per cent of the children lived with families on the street. The next largest group was street working children, at 24 per cent. About 8 per cent of the children lived on the street by themselves, which makes them the most vulnerable category, says the report.

The highest number of children on the streets was in the age group between 16 and 18 years. It notes that the number of girls decreased as the age of respondents increased. The reasons for this are that the girls were either married off young or trafficked, or pushed into exploitative relationships.

Data show that almost 24 per cent of the children were illiterate. Of the 5,467 children counted between the ages of four and six, only 1,724 children went to balwadis. Twenty-two per cent of the children had studied up to Class 3 and 20 per cent up to Class 7.

Obviously, occupation was a sensitive topic given that child labour is illegal; however, the enumerators were able to gather enough data on this count, too. The report finds that 11.5 per cent of the children sold flowers, newspapers and fruit on the street; 9 per cent worked in eateries; 7.9 per cent begged; 5.5 per cent were ragpickers; 2.5 per cent worked in construction; and 2.5 per cent did small jobs such as playing in wedding bands, basket-making, household work, loading, polishing shoes, ironing, tailoring and selling scrap.

According to the report, the living conditions of almost all the children were subhuman. While some found night shelters run by NGOs, many lived near garbage dumps, sewerage pipelines, open gutters, railway and bus stations, parks/gardens and shops, on beaches, under flyovers, and at places of tourism.

Obviously, health was a critical factor and while the census did not conduct medical examinations, enumerators observed that several children were unwell, had bruises or just looked unhealthy. Nearly 2.55 per cent of the children suffered from some disability and most of these children begged for a living.

A shocking 15 per cent of the children were addicted to drugs, whitener, tobacco, polish and similar substances that are cheap yet dangerous. Enumerators, in fact, found it difficult to approach several children who were clearly addicts and it required patience and persistence to arrive at these numbers.



Mumbai’s local railway, also known as the city’s lifeline, has been home to thousands of street children and the homeless almost since it was built. The census found 905 children on the platforms, with many working through a well-oiled system—begging or selling sundry items. For instance, they would never be seen during peak hours as that is when vigilance of the authorities is at the highest. Those who worked on the western line would not work the other lines.

TISS and ActionAid interviewed 728 children for a detailed sample survey in order to get a clearer picture. These are some of facts that emerge from the survey:

Around 52.2 per cent of the respondents were found on footpaths and traffic signals. Mirroring the census findings, the survey data show that 61.5 per cent of the children resided with their families on the streets, 24.2 per cent did not live with their families but had contact with them, and 6.9 per cent had no contact with their families.

It finds that 69.6 per cent of the children earned an income, while the rest did not. Most often, work was done in exchange for food and shelter.

Hunger was one of the most disturbing realities, says the study. Having no money for food was the most cited reason for 72.2 per cent of the children who missed meals.

Another was abuse. According to the survey, 44.1 per cent of the children reported that they had seen or heard of their peers being abused. The nature of abuse recorded by the enumerators included torture, beatings, forced starvation and sexual abuse. One child told the interviewer that owing to the lack of space to sleep, there would often be fights at night which attracted police attention. The police would chase them away from the area and they would have to sleep in the open and expose themselves to all manner of abuse.

The survey explores the reasons for children being on the streets and whether they have knowledge of or contact with their families. It finds that 88.5 per cent of the children were aware of their place of origin. However, 50.8 per cent indicated that they had landed on the streets owing to disturbed home conditions, 15.8 per cent came in search of jobs or to pursue dreams, including that of joining the film industry. Around 7.7 per cent indicated they had run away and another 11 per cent indicated their parents had sent them away. Abuse, violence, poverty and hunger, kidnapping, getting lost and natural calamities were other reasons given for reaching Mumbai’s streets.

Field notes


Apart from the numbers that reveal a crisis, the report also weaves in heart-wrenching field notes from surveyors. Here are a few samples: “Shouting and verbal abuse are an everyday occurrence.” “Some children said they had been brought from their village to study but were made to work here.” “Dharavi had many children who work in the night and go to school in the morning.” “Saw children working in marriage halls.” “Many were working in shops but the owners would not let us talk to them.” “One asked us if he gave up ragpicking could we get him a proper job.” “Some children were sorting stuff out of garbage which they would sell as scrap.” “I saw a group of boys injecting some drug into their body and they were doing it fearlessly. They looked blank when they saw me.” “One woman said the police pick up children and send them to the ‘chiller room’—children’s home.”

Here is a sampling of what some of the children said to the field workers: “I want a place to sleep.” “If father does not sell balloons, children go hungry.” “If father does not find work, we sleep hungry. Many times we sleep hungry.” “I am a ragpicker since five years. Father is jobless and alcoholic, so we beg and give money to mother. Some of our money goes into using public toilets.”

RecommendationsAs per the directions of the Supreme Court in 2001, State governments have to construct 24-hour shelters for homeless populations in all cities with a population of more than five lakh at the rate of one shelter with a capacity of 100 per one lakh population. Mumbai, with 140 lakh people, has just two, analysts said.

The report recommends increasing the number of night shelters, at least for children. It wants the Government of Maharashtra and its relevant departments to take charge of areas such as education, health, addiction, labour and abuse. It says the Department of Women and Child Development (DWCD) must constitute a task force involving the Department of Labour, the police, the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, and NGOs to devise a comprehensive strategy to address issues regarding street working children.

With regard to abuse, it suggests forming special juvenile police units and a mapping exercise of locations where street children are more vulnerable. The Crime Branch, along with social workers, should patrol the streets and reach out to these children instead of chasing them away. It appeals to the railway authorities to sensitise its employees and handle the issue in a humane manner.

It also wants the setting up of a State inter-department committee to review and monitor existing laws, policies and programmes for the vulnerable and the marginalised ones. This should be chaired by the Chief Secretary and meet at least once in six months, it says.

In 2008, Danny Boyle won eight Oscars for Slumdog Millionaire, a film based on street children, though with a plot different from Mira Nair’s. We felt strongly for the celluloid characters. Yet, in reality, when that little boy attempts to sell some flowers at the traffic signal, we turn him away.

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#Censorship – Kalaghoda axes play after Hindu groups call it ‘anti-national’; producers move it to YouTube

Thursday, February 6, 2014 – 15:07 IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA Webdesk
The art festival drops the play loosely based on Mohammad Ali Jinnah after right wing group Hindu Janajagruti Samiti protests by calling it anti-national

Mumbai’s iconic art festival known for its rich portrayal of contemporary art and culture took little consideration while bending over backwards following threats from rightwing Hindu groups.

The play dubbed as ‘Ali J’ was scheduled to take place on Thursday, Feburary 6. However, following threats by a Hindu nationalist group, Hindu Janajagruti Samiti, that called for the play to be cancelled terming it as ‘anti-national’ and that it ‘spreads communal–hatred’.

On their website, that boasts a tagline ‘For establishment of a Hindu nation’, the group accuses the play of glorifying Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who they blame for partition of India 67 years ago. The website also states that it led a motely crew of right wing groups to submit a complaint in the Colaba police station, a fact also confirmed by the police. Along with this a warning was also issued to the organisers that if attempts were made to stage its show, the group would hold demonstrations. “Patriotic Hindus are registering their protest,” it stated.

Protest : Show of play ‘Ali J’ glorifying Jinnah to be staged on 6 Feb at Mumbai

— Hindujagrutiorg (@hindujagrutiorg) February 5, 2014

So what is ‘Ali J’ really about?
Touted as a political thriller, Ali J is a one act play starring Karthik Kumar, and deals with being Muslim in today’s India. However, Sunil Vishnu K, director of Evan Entertainment that produced the play, in conversation with dna, explains, “It is not anti-national or anti-Hindu! If anything, it implores concerns of a generation about partition.”

Further calling the accusations to be unfounded, Sunil is appalled that the protesters would boycott the play without even having watched it. “The play deals with ideas of secularism and unity. It is far from being anti-national!”

Ironically, Sunil explains, the play imagines how things would be if we were all a little more tolerant.

The show was earlier presented in Bangalore and also faced some mild objections by local Hindu groups. But Sunil informs how the theatre community in the city, led by renowned personality Arundathi Nag, came out in solidarity to ensure a peaceful and successful showcase.

Commenting on the art festival’s decision to drop the play, Sunil says, “Kalaghoda was made to believe that there would be a law and order situation if they showed Ali J. My play wasn’t dropped because the law forbids it; on the contrary, it was because such situations were created, that suppressed our freedoms to present it.”

Web to the rescue
But even as Kalaghoda backs out and refuses to provide a platform to present this theatre, YouTube comes as a much stronger alternative. The show will air online on Thursday at 5.30 pm on Evam Entertainment’s YouTube channel.

“It isn’t just about this play,” explains Sunil. “It is about freedom of speech. Or else anything and everything can be banned just because someone claimed that it was ‘anti-national’.”

On a Facebook group protesting the cancellation of the play screening, the producers point out, “Ali J was prevented from performing based on protests and threats from fundamentalist groups, without them even watching the play. This is an outrage against the freedom of speech and artistic expression, in a secular Democracy. You have stopped us from performing using force; but can you stop people from watching it?”

“I only want to share this play with the masses,” Sunil explains his decision to make Ali J available on a public platform, which is sure to cost him. “I want people to watch it, share it and talk about it. I want them to see for themselves if whether the play evokes anti-national emotions.”

He urges people to watch the play in solidarity of freedom of speech. “If this becomes a trend, then we, the artists, might as well pack our bags and go,” he says in conclusion.

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Mumbai – Mentally ill teenage girl abandoned on train #Vaw #WTFnews

By Ram Parmar, Mumbai Mirror | Feb 5, 2014,

Mentally ill teen abandoned on train
18-year-old Jabin says her parents put her on Ahmedabad-bound Lokshakti Express at the Bandra Terminus on Monday evening. (R) The chain tied to her right leg

Jabin Iqbal, who had a chain tied to her leg, was apparently left behind by parents on Lokshakti Exp; three Palghar women came to her rescue.

A mentally ill teen was allegedly abandoned by her parents on a train to Ahmedabad on Monday.

Jabin Iqbal, 18, was found behaving oddly on Lokshakti Express, which departs from Bandra Terminus every evening, by three Palghar women who provided her food and water before taking her to a hospital.

Jabin has not been able to recall her parents’ name or where they live. But she told the three women that she was regularly beaten by her “abba” (father). Jabin had a chain tied to her right leg when she was found.

The Government Railway Police (GRP) said that they were trying to identify her parents and would ask a court which care facility she should be sent to. Currently, Jabin is admitted to Thane Mental Hospital, where doctors are evaluating her condition.

Jabin has said that she boarded Lokshakti Express with her parents at Bandra Terminus. The train’s departure time is 7.40 pm. It is not clear whether her parents alighted at Bandra itself or at another station. The train halts at Andheri, Borivali and Palghar.

“She was staring blankly at a ceiling fan in the ladies coach,” said 22-yearold Palghar resident Archana Nair, one of the three women who came to Jabin’s rescue.

“At first I thought she was sleeping and had suddenly woken up because of the noise of people getting on the train. I realised something was wrong when she continued to look at the ceiling.”

Many Palghar residents take Lokshakti Express for their daily commute. Archana, a management trainee at a Goregaon firm, boarded the train at Andheri on Monday evening. So did CA student Vinita Lakhiani, 23, and HR professional Shilpa Nair, 22.

Vinita said that she tried to talk to Jabin, but she gave vague replies. “She only said that her name was Jabin Iqbal and that she wanted to go to a mosque in Usmanpura,” Vinita said.

Usmanpura is a locality in Ahmedabad and home to a famous local mosque. “There a chain tied to her leg, which I found very shocking. It looked like she had been tortured by her family,” Shilpa said.

During her conversations with the three women, Jabin repeatedly said: “Abba ne mujhe kaha, jaa mar jaa (My father told me to die)”. “She also said that her father used to often beat her,” Archana said.

The three women shared food from their tiffin boxes with Jabin and also bought a bottle of water for her. “When the train stopped at Borivali station, we sought help from an RPF constable, but he refused to take her custody. He flatly said that it was not his job to help abandoned people,” Archana alleged.

They then tried to call the emergency helpline number of the Western Railway, but could not get through. The train reached Palghar at 9.40 pm.

“We had to get down, but we didn’t want to leave the girl behind. She was disoriented and someone could have harmed her,” Archana said. “We took her to the GRP at Palghar station.”

GRP Inspector Pramod Dawre said that doctors at Thane Mental Hospital were trying to determine the 18-yearold’s condition.



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Mumbai: Uncle rapes 11-year-old girl for a year, arrested

Jan 29, 2014 at 04:01pm IST


Mumbai: The Mumbai Police on Wednesday arrested a man for raping an 11-year-old girl for a period of one year. The accused is the uncle of the minor.

The case came into light after the minor confided about this to her aunt, who took her to Mira Road police station on Tuesday.

(More updates awaited)


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