A spate of incidents in the past one-and-a-half years has put the credibility of the Mumbai police force — once considered the best in the country — at stake.
However, the force’s credibility hit rock bottom when an assistant inspector recently detained a 29-year-old aspiring model, accused her of prostitution, and later molested, raped and robbed her at Sakinaka.
For the first time, after he took charge as the joint commissioner of police (law and order), Deven Bharti talks about the ailing force and their plans to ensure it retains its credibility.
“There are problems,” said Bharti, indicating the recent cases where cops have been accused of being a part of a drug syndicate, corruption, and raping a model.
“The more powerful an engine is, the stronger a brake you require,” said Bharti. Bharti says laws such as the Criminal Procedure Code and Indian Penal Code vest a lot of power in a policeman. “This power is to serve the citizens. And we have to be accountable. In a force of 50,000, one cannot vouch for each and every man. Our goal now is to fix accountability on every policeman who is on duty,” said Bharti.
Each on-duty policeman will be monitored closely from now on, said the cop. A policeman on the street needs to understand that if common citizens are cooperating with him, then it is his responsibility to cooperate too.
“If we find any of our men failing to live up to their duties as a public servant, they will face the harshest of punishments,” said Bharti.
To ensure that senior officials have control on the force, every deputy commissioner has been asked to move around in his or her respective zones, visit police stations, visit outposts, interact with communities, groups and the people at large.
“Policing cannot be done without knowing the area. They should know the pulse of the area that falls under them,” said Bharti. Apart from visiting hours or scheduled meetings, the deputy commissioners of police have been asked not sit in their offices.
The commissioner had earlier asked for a comprehensive chart with names of the tainted policemen. “If a policeman’s integrity is suspected even a bit, we will take the strictest punishment against him,” said Bharti.
Bharti has called for all Mumbaiites to be vocal if they come across an errant policeman. “We will do everything that is in our purview to ensure instances like this do not happen."