In the wake of the recent terror attacks, the Mumbai police department has now roped in the common man to act as its eyes and ears.
“We have included 400 persons from different strata of society to act as informers. It will be a three-dimensional move wherein we will concentrate on petty thefts and drug syndicate with terrorist activities as our main focus,” said Vishwas Nangre Patil, additional commissioner of police (west region).
The exercise is a modified version of the traditional Mohalla Committees that were formed in the aftermath of the 1993 riots to create a sense of amity among the two communities. The aim, in this case, is to create anti-terrorism awareness among the youth.
The group includes school and college trustees, teachers, principals, private and coaching class tutors, members of the societies, youngsters, representatives of different religions, mall and shopping centre employees and owners and local politicians. Taxi and autorickshaw drivers, hawkers, labourers and members of the house help association too will be included in the group.
“The idea is to include people from every walk of life. These people will act as our eyes and ears and will keep us informed about any suspicious activities happening in their area. The decision of roping in school and college authorities is to keep a tab on illegal activities such as drug abuse and eve-teasing in their premises,” added Patil.
As part of the exercise, each police officer along with police constables from the 21 police stations in the west region will be assigned a particular area and would be responsible for the safety and security of that area. At the group meet — which will be held once a month or more depending on the requirement — the policemen would discuss the security issues with the representatives and strategise for the future.
“We receive tip-offs from our informants on several occasions. However, we cannot have informants to watch every activity in every part of the city. This plan will help the department as the representatives will watch the activities closely and keep informing the police about it,” said a senior police officer from Versova police station.
Youngsters and women will comprise 60% of the group. “Apart from keeping a close watch on anti-terrorism activities, the initiative will be of great help in bringing down the overall crime rate in the region,” added Patil.