Mumbai activists decry force’s inability to ensure safety of women

    • By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent
    • Published: 18:36 August 27, 2013
    • Gulf News


Mumbai: Condemning the heinous gang rape of a photojournalist and the police’s inability to ensure safety of women, a group of activists have pointed out that only 20 per cent of the police force in Mumbai is available for ordinary citizens at any given time.

The rest of the force is deployed to provide security to important VIPs, visiting dignitaries and a host of ministers, legislators, politicians, actors and various others.

“We demand a full overhauling of policing in Mumbai now and the implementation of police reforms, as per the Supreme Court’s directives, in Maharashtra,” said Dolphy Elma D’Souza, Convenor, Police Reforms Watch, an NGO.

Protesting along with other organisations like Watchdog Foundation, Save Our Land, Mahiti Adhikar Manch and others, he said that Home Minister R.R. Patil had spoken of providing security to journalists.

“But we want to remind him that against the sanctioned strength of 41,401 police force of the department, there are only 33,998 policemen — a clear shortfall of 7,403 personnel. To add to this, in 2012, 28,420 police personnel were deputised for VIP security. In addition, more than 2000 policemen are deployed for providing security to ministers, MLAs, film stars and others on a permanent basis.”

With only 20 per cent of the police force available to ordinary citizens, he said, “we are shocked at the complete callousness of the administration in looking after our safety.”

It also means that the effective cover for one person is .021 police officers per person or 21 policemen for a population of 100,000 as against the UN recommendation of a minimum of 220 police officers. The VIPs on the other hand have one police officer or more each.

“Providing policemen for unnecessary security to a few very privileged people is costing us our lives. This has to stop,” say activists.

It has taken three years for the government to sanction Rs150 million (Dh8.5 million) into the investigation budget after bitter complaints from police personnel that they have to spend from their own pockets when travelling in connection with cases under investigation.

It is time the state government implemented the apex court’s police reforms package of September 2006 that will give greater autonomy to the police force from their political masters, ensure accountability and strengthen Rule of Law, said D’Souza.

The Supreme Court had prescribed the setting up of three institutions in the states: a State Security Commission to insulate police from extraneous pressures, a Police Establishment Board to give autonomy in matters of transfers and a Police Complaints Authority to look into complaints of misconduct against policemen.


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