I think it's not that the city is growing rapidly unsafe, but rather the police, over the last few years, has not been able to adequately deal with crimes in the city. What we've noticed in our work is that the cops are falling behind with their key responsibilities.
The purview of efficient law enforcement is limited to politically motivated policies, VIP related work, and certain individual complaints where people stand their ground for hours or that are lucky enough to receive media and public attention. The day-to-day safety concerns of citizens do not take the same precedence. This all has contributed to the Shakti Mills incident which in my opinion is a spectacular failure of the police in the implementation of their preventive duties.
We believe that the police need to focus more on their local intelligence gathering. The senior police inspector at a given local police station is expected to know the ins and outs of his jurisdiction. He should be able to identify spots prone to criminal activity as well as the mischievous elements that stay there. He should, then accordingly, take the necessary preventive measures that can ensure safety for the citizens. This sadly seems to not have been followed with regards to Shakti Mills.
During the span of our work, we have frequently heard the cops give excuses that make no sense at all. Many a times, they tend to put the blame on the victims, for being out too late, or for consuming alcohol, or even for socialising with the opposite sex. That is outrageous! Every one is entitled to safer free society and it is the primary role of the police to facilitate that. Anything else is simply a failure of policing.
An example of this is when about two years ago, our local residents organisation had organised a residents meeting at Ville Parle, along with the police representatives from the Juhu and Santacruz police stations. The cops there wanted to try out a new system of residential patrolling. However, when the residents offered their suggestions and even pointed out to certain areas that faced the problem of drug peddlers very similar to Shakti Mills, they weren't too welcoming. They stated lack of manpower as reason for not being able to help us and asked us to go ahead and hire security guards.
I don't deny that there is a genuine problem of manpower, but to me it seems to be very selective, considering that human resource shortage doesn't stop them from making raids at bars etc.
Maharashtra is the only state to have successfully implemented the Dakshita Samiti Guidelines provided by the High Court. It allows the police to involve the members of the community to independently audit cases related to crimes against women in a given jurisdiction. Volunteers from the area are brought in during the police work to assist the victims with necessary support and help. This is especially useful considering the shortage of women police officers. Yet sadly most Dakshata Samitis are defunct in Mumbai while the Home Ministry seems too busy trying to stop dance bars to care. Our work at Zero Tolerance has focused on implementing just this.
The bottom line remains that the police needs to fulfil its duties with regards to public safety. And that is not too difficult a goal to achieve here in Mumbai.
Zero Tolerance campaign came into being post the gruesome murders of Keenan and Reuben at Amboli. We are a bunch of young activists who decided that we need to go beyond candle light marches and pressurise the government for tangible changes in policy towards sexual harassment. We successfully sent more than a lakh signatures to the Maharashtra State government to strengthen anti-sexual harassment laws.
Since then we have been working on implementing the Dakshata Samiti model where a local vigilance committee is set up in every police station to audit cases of violence against women and to provide help to victims.
To participate in the Zero Tolerance campaign, you can contact Anik Gadia at 9892171211. You can find us on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/zerotolerancecampaign or on Twitter at @Zero_tol