On January 25, 2014, a 28-year- old dance teacher stepped out of a hotel in Powai, after having two glasses of wine and dinner with two of her friends. Her friends dropped her a few metres away from her home and left. After realising that she was drunk, the security guard of her building complex allegedly raped her.
On February 6, a 12-year-old girl was gang-raped while her 16-year-old friend was molested by two men in an autorickshaw, along with the driver, at Jogeshwari (East). The Oshiwara police arrested the accused, only to later find out he was a historysheeter and had been externed from the city in the past.
On September 12, a 27-yearold walking through the crowded Hill Road locality in Bandra was molested by a 19-year-old hawker, Firoz Mohammed Ahmed.
Cases such as these only highlight how the west region in Mumbai — which spans from Bandra to Jogeshwari — that houses the rich and the famous is unsafe. Despite three deputy police commissioners and 21 police stations, the region recorded the highest number of crime cases — 11,007 — in the city in 2014.
While the rise in crime can be attributed to the exponential growth of population, what worries both the Mumbai police and citizens is the increased cases of crimes against women. Around 160 first information reports (FIRs) were filed in rape cases, while 606 cases of molestation were registered in the area.
“Rape cases are increasing because the morality among citizens is going down,” said Adolf D’Souza, former corporator from Juhu.
Another significant reason is the change in the demography of the region. From a quaint suburb of the 80s, Bandra, for instance, has now become a hub of commercial activity in the western region.
Krishna Hedge, former Congress MLA from Vile Parle, said, “Two decades ago, places such as Carter Road or Juhu beach did not have a large number of visitors like today. Not many people could afford to visit a plush restaurant with his or her friends. Now, more people visit places such as Carter Road, Bandstand or Juhu beach, which directly impacts the crime graph.”
The Bandra-Kurla Complex is also home to top multi-national firms, and hosts the National Stock Exchange (NSE), SEBI, among other government institutions. Consequently, around five lakh employees travel to the area every day.
Film director and producer Mahesh Bhatt said, “The standard of living in this city has become very high. If a person aspires to a high-flying life and cannot afford it with regular income, he is sometimes willing to take the wrong side of the road.”
Anil Joseph, a social activist from Bandra, said, “The biggest reason for the rise in crime is the number of slum pockets that have mushroomed in areas such as Bandra, Khar and Santacruz.”