To get a sneak peek into what the crime scenario in Mumbai could be by 2020 and, more importantly, what would be the preparedness of our police and security agencies, just go back five years in time. After the horrific 26/11 terror attack of 2008, the state and police administration promised a string of security measures for Mumbai and Maharashtra.
Today, five years down the line, all that talk still remains on paper.
The way things have moved over the last five years, the next seven years leading to 2020 are not going to witness any major changes as regards curbing crime in Mumbai. Far from it, experts say that the city’s ever-rising population, increasing gap between the haves and have-nots, ghettoisation and politicisation of the police force will make the city’s crime scenario very bleak.
Amid all this, the profile of crime and kind of policing requirement is bound to see a departure from current trends.
Mumbai being the financial capital, and one of the biggest users of the Internet, cyber-crimes, economic frauds and terrorism will be some of the major challenges.
Former director general of police Arvind Inamdar feels there’s a huge mismatch between the number of policemen vis-a-vis Mumbai’s population. By 2020, this requirement is set to balloon further. “If the current trend of crime continues, all sort of crimes including cyber crime, terrorism, street crime, communal riots are bound to increase by 2020.
Add to it the threat of Naxals who are expected to come marauding in urban places. In comparison, modernisation of the police force, its reforms and justice system are moving at a snail’s pace,” says Inamdar.
The former state police chief speaks of the larger panacea to this malaise. “Politicians must respect the law. Our police forces have become weak due to tremendous political pressure,” he adds.
Former commissioner of police for Mumbai, MN Singh, says that the crime profile of all metro cities keeps changing and will change in Mumbai too. Like terrorism, he says, was never a problem until the ’80s; it first reared its ugly head in the ’90s and will continue to pose a threat.
The burgeoning population and urbanisation, the city’s social structure will change many equations in the coming years.
Archaic methods of policing will cease to be effective.
“Cyber-crime is a new phenomenon. With the Internet being used so widely and the banking sector growing, new forms of crime will emerge. To tackle such crimes, the police will have to train themselves accordingly. Cyber offences, like terrorism and underworld, came into existence in the ’90s, spurring the need for a dedicated cyber crime cell.
Policemen have to be trained and must keep themselves upgraded with emerging technologies,” said Singh.
He points out how changing times have spawned changes in ‘jurisdiction’ which police department handles what crime.
“A few decades ago, monetary crimes of up to Rs5lakh could be transferred to the crime branch for investigation.
The figure gradually rose to Rs25lakh and then to Rs50lakh.
Now, even Rs50lakh seems a paltry amount with scams running into larger amounts being unearthed,” says Singh.
“The police will have to prepare a special pool of expertise to deal with economic crimes. Time has come for the police to rope in people from finance and accounts services so that economic crimes and hawala transactions can be thoroughly probed.”
Joint commissioner of police, crime, Himanshu Roy, too feels that the biggest challenges for the police in 2020 will be terrorism, cyber and economic crimes. “This is what we are building our capabilities for – to address these challenges.
Cyber crime is flourishing because of wide Internet usage.
And we’re trying to overcome these crimes by acquiring material resources such as training our manpower and hiring professionals to assist police in investigations,” says Roy, adding that the big challenge is the rate at which these crimes are rising.
Former IPS officer-turned-lawyer YP Singh believes that the moral fabric of the police force is a key determinant for safety and security to improve. “Corruption within the force is very high. The biggest challenge will be to curb this,” says Singh.
Another problem that could turn menacing by 2020 is drug abuse among the young. Last year alone drugs worth a whopping Rs5.10 crore were seized from Mumbai. An official from the anti-narcotics cell of the Mumbai police estimated this to scale Rs20 crore a year by 2020.
Assistant commissioner of police from the anti-narcotics cell, DD Kale, explains how awareness campaigns are carried out regularly. “But we fear that drug dealers will use newer technologies to traffic drugs. To tackle this, all agencies need to be better equipped,” said Kale.