From the VIP area of Malabar Hill to the upmarket Cuffe Parade to the notorious areas of Dongri, the southern part of the city covers a wide spectrum of socio-economic zones. But of the five regions, south Mumbai continues to be the safest for women.
In 2014, there was a marginal rise in crimes against women in south region, most of which can be attributed to the floating population the commercial areas witness.
Last year, 50 cases of rape were reported in the region, which comprises elite localities of Marine Lines, Malabar Hill and Peddar Road, as against the 33 reported in 2013.
The increase in molestation complaints was marginal, with 214 cases registered in comparison to 201 in 2013.
South Mumbai also saw fewer crime cases in comparison to other regions. Out of the 39,903 crimes registered by the Mumbai police, around 4,862 were from the south Mumbai.
According to the police, criminal activities are limited to certain pockets in the region, even though it has been home to some of the most notorious gangsters, including Dawood Ibrahim.
But is the region really safe? Yes, says professor and sociologist Nandini Sardesai. “In south Mumbai, women can still walk at midnight at Colaba causeway or in its narrow alleys without fear, as there are people on the road. The area is much safer than the suburbs.”
Also, the increased security because of presence of structures of power such as the Mantralaya and police headquarters in the area help.
The most cases of rape were registered in Cuffe Parade (13), followed by DB Marg (6), Gamdevi (5) and Sewri (5).
Malabar Hill resident and ad guru Bharat Dabholkar said although the area had undergone considerable changes, it was much safer when compared to other parts of the city. “Earlier, we knew all our neighbours, and even the extended the family of our house help. But now people hardly know each other, which makes one feel like living in a faceless city,” he said.
“With the influx of outsiders, old neighbourhoods have been replaced by skyscrapers,” he added.
The government’s decision to decongest south Mumbai has been a major blessing to the area.
However, unlike its elite neighbours, places such as Dongri have always had notoriety associated with it.
Senior high court counsel Amin Solkar, a resident of the area, attributed the rise in crime to overcrowding.
Solkar also stressed on shortage of police personnel. “The police force has not increased according to the population,” he said, adding, “Earlier, people had a stronger sense of morality, and rules were not flouted in such a rampant manner."