A case for background checks | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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A case for background checks

On May 7, 51-year-old Chetna Ajmera was found murdered at her Ghatkopar residence. The wife of prominent developer Jayant Ajmera was murdered allegedly by her former cook, who continues to be on the run. Puja Changoiwala reports.

mumbai Updated: Sep 01, 2012 01:10 IST
Puja Changoiwala

On May 7, 51-year-old Chetna Ajmera was found murdered at her Ghatkopar residence. The wife of prominent developer Jayant Ajmera was murdered allegedly by her former cook, who continues to be on the run.

Police say a huge percentage of crimes in the city, especially robberies, are committed by house help who are familiar with their employers' routines. Most of such crimes can be prevented if people take the effort to have their house help, drivers and tenants registered with the local police station.

There is proof that it works.

In August last year, Mumbai police rolled out the 'society cop' scheme in zone 9. As part of the scheme, constables across the eight police stations between Bandra (West) and Oshiwara have been assigned five housing societies each.

"All powers of police are vested in the constable for the jurisdiction of the societies assigned to him. He is responsible for issuing permissions, passport verifications, registration of house help, senior citizens, drivers and tenants," said zonal deputy commissioner of police Pratap Dighavkar.

The constable is responsible for prevention and detection of crime in societies assigned to him, and also for the implementation of various security schemes.

"From August last year till July this year, we have registered 4,014 security guards, 22,699 domestic help, 2,246 drivers and 9,785 tenants with details including references and native place address," Dighavkar said.

He added that fearing background checks, around 300 domestic help quit their jobs and fled. The DCP said that crime rate in zone 9 has dipped as a result of the society cop initiative.

Even if crime does take place, detection is much faster if the service staff has been registered with the local police.

On Wednesday, Hindustan Times visited one such housing society - Anand Cooperative Housing Society at CD Barfiwala Road, Andheri (West). Dilip Shinde is the society cop here. Shinde said that over 100 drivers, house help and security guards working at the society have been registered with the Juhu police.

A year ago, a 65-year-old woman was murdered at her residence in the society, allegedly by her house help, who had been hired just three days prior. The society cop scheme had been initiated in the society two weeks before the murder, but the house help had not been registered with the police. The employer was in the process of submitting the details to the police station. The accused, who fled with cash and valuables, was later arrested from Patna.

"Residents of the society were initially skeptical about providing details to the police. They did not find it necessary. But after the murder, they willingly submitted all the required details. Not a single theft or crime has been reported in the society since that incident," Shinde said.

NV Iyer, acting secretary of the housing society said that police inspected the building and made certain suggestions. Accordingly, the society installed CCTV cameras and an intercom network.

"What works is the fear psychosis. The very presence of a policeman and his visits each week act as a strong deterrent to criminals," Iyer said.