“While returning home from work, I feel unsafe when I alight from the train at Vasai station,” says IT professional Sunaina Sharma. “Drug addicts and prostitutes line up outside the station and no cop is to be seen anywhere around.
A spurt in population, rising crime rate and insufficiency of policemen in the Vasai-Virar region have raised safety concerns for women. While thefts, chain-snatching and robberies continue unabated, a sudden rise in rape and molestation cases now haunts women in the region.
A corporator from Vasai-Virar municipal corporation, Kiran Chendvankar, agrees more policemen should be deployed.
“That is if senior authorities are serious about safety of women,” says Chendvankar.
She goes on to cite an instance of a friend who was asked by a passer-by about her “rate” while walking along the railway platform. “Major development in the region has attracted migrants from various states who indulge in crimes. This rise in population is a major reason for the rise in crime,” says Chendvankar.
Besides, the lack of police presence on streets and secluded spots continues to scare women while an increase in population due to cheap housing rates and low standard of living in the region attracts Mumbaikars and migrants from various states. A senior police official said the force is overburdened.
“Patrolling and investigating teams are the same. We need additional force to tackle such crimes,” said the official. “Mostly, after committing the crime, criminals flee the city and we have to send out teams to arrest them.”
Superintendent of police (Thane rural), Anil Kumbhare, however said that adequate forces have been provided to police stations in various regions. “Also, we have trained our personnel to handle sexual offences. Our women’s helpline has received 165 calls since its launch in January,” said Kumbhare. “But it must be noted that most rape cases are technical in nature.”