Thursday, February 20, 2014

Maria wants police to be women-friendly

Rakesh Maria


Nitasha Natu & Mateen Hafeez TNN

Mumbai: Those facing sexual abuse will no longer have to go through the trauma of visiting a police station and recounting their ordeal all over again to policemen. According to a plan drawn up by the new police commissioner, Rakesh Maria, if the survivor expresses any discomfort in visiting the local police station, a woman officer will be sent to her home where she will record her statement, prepare the necessary paperwork and forward it to the police station concerned.  At present, every complainant is required to go to the police station to lodge a complaint.
 
    In an attempt to give the police force an image makeover and make them more friendly towards women, Maria on Wednesday spoke about the formation of a grievance redressal cell for women and senior citizen complainants. “Once they reach the reception counter of a police station, they will be directed to the quick redressal desk and their complaint will be recorded immediately. Preferably, staffers attending to them will be female officers,” Maria said, adding that sensitizing the force and making them aware would take time. A dummy complainant will be sent thereafter to find out how prepared the staff are.
 
    Missing complaints concerning a woman or child can soon be lodged at any police station in the city. Their personnel will complete the paperwork and forward the complaint to the police station concerned from whose jurisdiction the woman or child have gone missing. This comes in the wake of the murder case of techie Esther Anuhya, whose family was family was made to run around by various police stations for a long time before their complaint was lodged.
 
    Besides this, mobile patrolling by female personnel will begin near girls schools and colleges, approach roads to railway stations, near temples and in shopping areas. The patrolling will happen when the crowds peak in these areas. “Instructions have been given to senior inspectors and ACPs to study and identify the locations where chain-snatching, eve-teasing, cases of senior citizens being duped, etc., are maximum and deploy mobile patrolling there,” Maria added. “We are also exploring the possibility of having another helpline like 103. The strength of the women’s crime cell, headed by DCP Sharda Raut, will also be augmented.”
 
    The commissioner said that he was busy in reviewing calls received on women’s helpline and would come up with a few more schemes soon. “I have asked my officers to have zero tolerance when it comes to crime against women and children,” said Maria. 
 
 
QUICK REDRESSAL

ON THE CARDS
 
If a sexual abuse victim expresses discomfort in visiting the police station to lodge a complaint, female officers will be sent to her
residence and record her statement
A quick redressal desk will be set up for complaints from women and senior citizens
 
PAST CASE OF INJUSTICE | A 16-year-old girl was raped by 6 men at Dindoshi last year. When she and her family went to file a case, cops allegedly mocked her. They allegedly asked if she had fun with the men and if she was an alcoholic or a drug-user
 
ON THE CARDS A complaint of missing women or kids can be registered at any police station, not just the area concerned
 
PAST CASE OF INJUSTICE | After techie Esther Anuhya went missing from LTT, the MIDC police did not file a case and told her parents to go to Kurla GRP. The GRP said they should go to the Vijaywada police in Andhra Pradesh
 
ON THE CARDS Mobile patrolling by women personnel will be started outside girls’ schools and colleges. A new helpline exclusively for women may be launched
 
PAST CASE OF INJUSTICE | Last year, a man, Nishant Agarwal (36), asked a girl the directions to her school in Kandivli and offered her a lift. Inside, he allegedly sexually assaulted her and video-recorded the act  
 

Action against cops if they don’t file case, warns Maria

Mumbai: Police chief Rakesh Maria said on Wednesday that officers, who dissuade a person from lodging a complaint, will be dealt with sternly.
 
    “Mischief and indiscipline will not be tolerated and there will be immediate punishment. Similarly, sincere efforts put in by personnel that help solve cases will be rewarded,” Maria said.
 
    “I have told officers that nobody is going to ask you why crime has increased but you are certainly going to be asked what have you done to prevent crime. Burking is definitely not the answer,” he added. Maria added that the objective is to bring about an attitudinal change at the level of a police station. “We will be sensitizing personnel to gender issues. But this will take some time,” he said.
 
    The top cop added that the force was “going back to the basics” with increased visible presence on streets, improving night patrolling, cracking down on street crime and zero tolerance towards drug peddlers, particularly those operating outside schools and colleges. A special drive against narcotics, harassment and chain-snatching will be started soon across the city. Projects started by former commissioner Satya Pal Singh for interacting with citizens will continue.
 
    Instructions have also been given to the traffic police to improve conditions on arterial motorways. “Each traffic division should come up with schemes on how to reduce driving time. Traffic discipline needs to be brought in. Police personnel have been instructed to crack down on racing and speeding,” said Maria. Assigning clearly defined roles to the crime branch and the local police stations, Maria has instructed each of them to prepare a separate list of top 10 offenders, which they will go after. The crime branch will focus on gangs of dacoits and mafia, while the local police will tackle miscreants. 

    “We have also decided to strengthen anti-terrorism cells at local police stations and they will co-ordinate with the anti-terrorism squad in augmenting collection of intelligence,” he said. Police stations have been asked to identify areas frequented by women and senior citizens for walks so that more personnel can be deployed.


The Times of India, February 20, 2014

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