The Maharashtra government and the police continue to reiterate and assure the people that all measures are being taken to make women in Mumbai feel safer and bring down crimes. But actions seem to speak much louder than words.
Consider this. Nearly two years after its inception, the crime against women (CAW) cell, the specialised unit of the Mumbai crime branch formed after the Delhi gang-rape, still does not have a chief.
At present it is monitored by ad hoc heads, and the cell is struggling with skeletal staff strength.
In fact, the cases of rape, molestation and sexual harassment increased last year, compared to the cases in the previous year.
Rape cases increased by 55% in comparison to 2013. The Mumbai police statistics show 605 cases were registered in 2014 as against 388 in 2013. Similarly, 1,459 cases of molestations were registered in the same period (1,161 in 2013).
Mumbai police commissioner, Rakesh Maria said they were looking for a woman deputy commissioner of police (DCP) to head the unit. “According to the sanction, the cell is supposed to be headed by a woman DCP. As soon as we get the candidate, we will make the appointment,” Maria said.
Ever since its formation in 2013, the CAW has been officiated by ad hoc unit heads. DCP Sharda Raut was given the additional charge of the unit till a few months ago. At present, DCP Namdeo Chavan from the anti-narcotics cell (ANC) is handling the cell.
Apart from that, the cell has been functioning with barely any staff, at almost 35-37% of its sanctioned strength. As a result, in the past two years, the unit has investigated a total of 10 cases, of which only five have been chargesheeted.
Sources in the Mumbai police said there is no dearth of woman DCPs in the state police, but no one is willing to head the unit, as it had too specific a mandate and lacks glamour.
Women’s activist and lawyer Abha Singh said the profile of the unit is far from attractive for glamour-struck IPS officers. “These are specialised units that are often considered to be shunted branches in police lingo, as they are devoid of power, money and lucrative executive postings in the city police. Many officers love to mingle with actors and the rich and famous, rather than work in such branches,” Singh said.