It's stand and stare, and not act | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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It's stand and stare, and not act

Mumbai, a city of dreams, is slowly turning into a city of nightmares, thanks to the notoriety it has earned in the last few weeks over cases of abduction and rape of a 14-year-old in Charkop, double murder in Amboli and a man being burnt alive outside his hutment in Versova.

mumbai Updated: Nov 22, 2011 01:42 IST
Little Yadav

Mumbai, a city of dreams, is slowly turning into a city of nightmares, thanks to the notoriety it has earned in the last few weeks over cases of abduction and rape of a 14-year-old in Charkop, double murder in Amboli and a man being burnt alive outside his hutment in Versova. In all these cases, ordinary citizens who were present at the spot, chose to look away, in a way helping the perpetrators of these heinous crimes.

When Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandes were attacked by six men outside a restaurant in Amboli on October 20; around 50 people chose to stand at the spot, and witness this incident, instead of taking a stand and driving away the goons. Even when Rehmat Shaikh was burnt alive by three men at his hutment, his neighbours saw it all, but when the police questioned them, none of them came forward with their account of the gruesome incident.

The manner in which Mumbaiites have been dealing with such crisis situations, is plain indifference, knowing well that prompt action could save a precious life. But somehow, as these recent incidents point out, we prefer to rather stand and watch, instead of taking action to stop crime.

What makes an ordinary citizen indifferent? Jaywant Hargude, assistant commissioner of police (crime branch), said, "The common man is not trained to deal with hooligans. When a person is termed as a goon, and armed as well, it evokes a sense of fear in people's mind and they prefer to maintain a safe distance. Secondly, it is best to keep trouble at bay and when it involves someone, who is just a stranger, they feel it makes sense to stay away."

Hargude added that most people fail to understand that timely response could help save a precious life. "Why should we get involved when there is a police force and other agencies to deal with crime? However, they don't understand is that by the time a police team reaches the spot, it is too late."

Another police officer, requesting anonymity, said that people often prefer to stay away, as getting involved in such incidents would spell unnecessary trouble for them.

"People generally avoid any encounter with the policemen, regardless of the cause, whether their's or someone else's. They would not want to get involved in the tedious process of getting their statements recorded for hours and spend time explaining their stand to the police," said a police officer.

He also attributed unwillingness to step forward to people's nature to avoid being part of long-drawn court visits and unending police interrogations.

Even people who want to be of some help to the police, in nabbing the culprits, avoid doing so for fear being hounded for no reason by the police, he added.

Unfortunately, looking away seems an easier and safer option.