Cops and their chamber of secrets

Sunday, 14 October 2007 - 3:58am IST
The Mumbai Police’s chamber of horrors is going hi-tech. Leather belts and wooden lathis are to give way to video cameras and voice identifiers.

Whips and sticks give way to video cameras in new interrogation room

The Mumbai Police’s chamber of horrors is going hi-tech. Leather belts and wooden lathis are to give way to video
cameras and voice identifiers.

For the first time in nearly 150 years of existence, the city police headquarters will have a state-of-the-art interrogation room equipped with hidden cameras, audio-visual recording devices, and sophisticated communication equipment.

The present structure nestled between the crime branch building and the lockup resembles a medieval torture chamber. Thick ropes and old car tyres hang from the ceiling – suspects are often dangled from them.

The dim corners hold leather belts, wooden lathis, lengths of hardened rubber sticks, and other instruments of torture. Over the years, this room has seen some of the most notorious criminals wilt.

Till two decades ago there used to be another small room with four doors and a small stool in the middle. There was no fan or ventilation of any sort.

The suspect was made to sit on the stool and cops would enter at random from any one of the four doors to question the man. After a few hours of this ‘treatment’, the suspect would flinch every time a door opened.

The most significant impact of the new interrogation room should be lower incidents of torture. Interrogations will be monitored by senior officials seated in their rooms.

The video recordings should also help the crime branch in court. Many of the accused now retract statements given to the police on the grounds that they were made under duress.

Now recorded evidence will be there for all to see. The new room will be manned and maintained by the Detection of Crime Branch (DCB-CID) headed by joint commissioner, Crime, Rakesh Maria.

It will have 41 video cameras, 13 digital cameras, three trans-receivers and one voice separator/identifier. This is as part of the Rs12-crore modernisation project undertaken by the city after the state home department sanctioned funds for this fiscal.

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