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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