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Summer break worries parents

It has been more than a year since the Nehru Nagar area of Kurla (east) was rocked by rape and murders of three young girls in a span of a few months. Mohamed Thaver reports.

mumbai Updated: Apr 11, 2011 01:25 IST
Mohamed Thaver

It has been more than a year since the Nehru Nagar area of Kurla (east) was rocked by rape and murders of three young girls in a span of a few months. But after the third victim’s body was found in June last year and the accused arrested thereafter, the year passed off, with no major incident reported here.

Now with the academic year of schools coming to an end and summer vacations about to begin, parents in this area are a nervous lot, again.

“When schools were open, at least for a few hours in the day, we were assured that our children were safe in the confines of the school. With vacations approaching, we are worried. We cannot keep a continuous watch on them. Also, we cannot force them to be at home all the time,” said Shehnaz Shaikh, a social worker from the Alidada estate in Nehru Nagar, who has an 11-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son.

Several parents are echoing a similar sentiment, and joining them is father of Nusrat Shaikh, 9, whose body was found at a shanty in Vatsalatai Nagar slums at Nehru Nagar on June 19 last year, who said parents were scared to allow their children to step out after bodies of girls were found. Parents felt their wards are safe in school mainly because after the initial scare in the area, attendance in school was back to around 100%.

Professor Bolar Maharudra of the Kedarnath Vidya Prasarini High School said, “After bodies of the girls were found, there was palpable fear in the area and attendance dropped to around 70%. But towards the end of the year, attendance was back to nearly 100%.” Till the end of the term, parents would come to drop and pick up their children from school, with many of them even waiting outside during the school premises, he added.

The fear factor in parents has reduced over the past few months. Snehal Samant, principal of SK Pantvalavalkar School in Nehru Nagar confirmed the high attendance level in school.

Asked about any security measures taken by the police to ensure no such incident takes place during vacations, inspector Jaywant Gosde from Nehru Nagar police station said: “The perception that we are not working on the case with as much urgency as exhibited initially is incorrect. Our teams are continuously combing the various slum pockets in the area, and during vacations also our men will try to ensure that no untoward incident takes place.”

When pointed that the sketches of the accused and the CCTV cameras put up in the area initially have been taken off, Godse said, “Posters cannot be put up in the area, as we need the civic body’s permission. However, CCTV cameras are still present.”