A spate of murders in the city in the past one month, involving senior citizens and elderly housewives, has rattled the Mumbai police. Joint Commissioner of police, Law and Order, Rajnish Seth tells HT that sensitisation of citizens on hiring domestic helps would prove a deterrent to such incidents. Excerpts from an interview:
Five murders have been reported across the city in just a month’s time wherein the victims were elderly citizens. Isn’t it a matter of concern?
Certainly it’s a grave concern. At the same time, I would like to say that these incidents don’t indicate any pattern of violence or lack of policing.
Have you identified the troubled spots?
Western suburbs, the Bandra-Andheri stretch in particular, has recorded the maximum of such incidents. The reason is simple. This area is inhibited largely by middle and upper middle class households who often hire servants.
Have you identified any palpable trend in those murders?
In most of these cases, the attackers turn out to be domestic helps or servants who had been hired without proper verification. Take for instance one of the recent cases, wherein a 68-year-old woman was found murdered in her flat. She had hired a house help a couple of days before her murder and he has gone missing. The servant had been hired without checking his background.
Then what solution do you (Mumbai police) have to offer to contain such crimes?
This problem will persist as long as people are not sensitised. Time and again police have been making appeals for at least some identification check of servants/watchmen before they are hired. If not finger prints or photographs, people should at least keep cell phone numbers of the reference persons of the domestic helps. This information should be kept with office bearers in the housing societies. The secretaries of the housing societies should pass this information on to the police.
This exercise has been going on since ages. But these incidents cease to happen. How is the present exercise of sensitisation different from those in the past?
The Deputy Commissioner of Police, Zone 9, has come out with a scheme—one policeman per society. Under this scheme, a policeman from every police station would be made in charge of a particular housing society. He would establish regular contact with the office bearers who in turn will update him about the happenings in the society, including new servants/helps. Beat officers, senior inspectors have been asked to interact regularly with the societies and encourage them to register servants with the police.