Last week, a 21-year-old college student was walking down a road in Goregaon (West) in the evening when a man approached her.
Walking up to her, the stranger complimented her on her “good looks”. Astonished and a bit scared the woman started to walk away, but the man followed. “I want to click your nude photographs,” he told her.
As the woman started to shout, the man disappeared in the crowd. Promptly, the young college student registered a complaint with the Goregaon police station. But not only is her stalker yet to be caught, he has not even been identified.
The incident is not the first case of sexual harassment in the area, and this is not one of the rare cases that have gone undetected.
TOTAL CASES IN NORTH REGION:
In 2014, a record 806 cases of crimes against women were registered in the north region, which is spread across Goregaon to Dahisar. Of these, only 67% cases were solved.
In comparison, 616 FIRs were registered in 2013, with a detection rate of 88%.
2014 was also the year when the two children from the region were victims of ghastly crimes.
In August, a five-year-old girl was kidnapped from the streets in Kandivli, raped and brutalised. In early September, another five-year-old was raped and murdered outside Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Borivli (East). The police have not had any breakthrough in four months.
Rape cases almost doubled in 2014 in the region. Kishor Jadhav, additional commissioner of police, north region, said most of the cases were from slum pockets, as children of labourers are easy targets.
“The crime rate increases when there are many shanties in any area. Children are at risk in such settlements, as their guardians are not present at home because of their work priorities,” said Jadhav.
The area-wise break-up of the region speaks for itself. Malwani police, under whose jurisdiction most of the slums fall, registered the highest number of cases of rapes, kidnapping and molestations in the region.
CRIME AGAINST WOMEN
Total cases registered: 806
Total cases detected: 538
Total cases registered (2013): 616
Total cases detected: 542
Activists said increase in population and subsequent rise in real estate prices, which has also resulted in the expansion of slum pockets, were also responsible for the spike.
However, BV Bhosale, professor at the department of sociology, Mumbai university, disagreed that the labour-class was to be blamed for the increase in crime rate. “In the absence of a secondary monitoring agency, there is no way to compare the actual crime pattern in the suburbs. There still are cases happening in societies and well-off families that go unreported,” said Bhosale.
According to police officials, almost 60% of north Mumbai is covered by slums.
A train ride from Goregaon to Dahisar, which marks the end of the police region and also the official limit of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s land limit, shows the stark reality — posh buildings with acres of slums surrounding them. And to top it off, swanky shopping malls have come up to cater those living in these areas.
MOST CASES REGISTERED
“The north region is the place where most labourers settle down. Holistically, north is about migrants and middle-class families, with parts of it owned by businessmen in areas such as Borivli and Kandivli,” said an officer requesting not to be named.
According to Dolphy D’Souza, convener of Police Reforms Watch, the low detection rate can be attributed to the huge gap between civilian and police ratio in the northern suburbs. “A recent RTI query revealed that 46% of the policemen are engaged in VIP duties. And with most policemen not equipped to solve cases, one can’t expect them to prevent crimes,” said D’Souza.