Mumbai police stations to have Nirbhaya Squad to bolster women’s safety
Against the backdrop of the Sakinaka rape and murder case, the top brass of the Mumbai police has decided to create a dedicated ‘Nirbahaya Squad’ in every police station to prevent crimes against women, officials said.
Directives to this effect were issued by the commissioner of police Hemant Nagrale on Tuesday. The city police came up with the idea a day after chief minister Uddhav Thackeray met with the state Director General of Police and Mumbai police commissioner along with other senior police officers at the state police headquarters to review the measures being taken by the police department for the safety and security of women.
The women safety squad would be on regular patrolling duty and would constitute a lady sub-inspector, a woman constable, a male constable and a driver. The squads will work to prevent the cases of harassment of girls, women and children.
The city police have also initiated a project called ‘Saksham’ in collaboration with an organisation called ‘M Power’. Under this project, survivors of sexual offences and juveniles in conflicts and law would be provided with psychotherapy and counselling for their recovery from post-incident trauma, rehabilitation and psychological counselling.
A lady assistant commissioner of police or an inspector level lady officer in each of the five regions would be the nodal officers who would supervise and review the functioning of the Nirbhaya Squads. The squads will also gather intelligence of any wrongdoings in children homes, orphanages, hostels, etc.
The squads have also been entrusted with the responsibility of creating awareness about the stricter provisions and harsh sentences prescribed under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, mainly in slum areas that witness a maximum number of POCSO cases in the city. This includes dense slums of Cuffe Parade, Kurla, Antop Hill-Dharavi, Malwani, Bhandup, etc. Such awareness would help cops prevent sexual crimes against minors.
To ensure that the squads function as per the expectations, the senior police officers have also announced monthly rewards to the squad for best performance.
Officers in ‘Nirbhaya Squads’ have also been instructed to attend parents meetings, seminars organised by schools, colleges and create awareness about the squads as well as the legal rights of women and children. The squad will also be distributing booklets on laws and legal provisions meant for the safety, security and welfare of women.
The squads will be given two days of training before they start functioning.
A Nirbhaya complaint box will be kept at these places (including schools and colleges) and a record will have to be maintained on action taken after receiving complaints in these boxes.
“The Nirbhaya Squads are being formed with an aim to create a safer environment for women and children in the society and also to create fear of law in minds of sexual offenders and deterring them from indulging in crimes,” Mumbai Police said in a statement released on Tuesday.
All the police station incharges in Mumbai have been asked to identify areas that are prone to crimes against women and create a list of such hotspots so that a patrolling pattern can be created for regular patrolling of these areas. This would include roads leading to schools, colleges, cinema halls, subways, malls, market areas, gardens, playgrounds, bus stops and railway stations, deserted places, etc.
Nirbhaya teams will also create a separate database of all sexual offenders who have a criminal record in the last five years. The squad members will keep a tab on these offenders’ activities to ensure they are not targeting women again after coming out on bail.
The squads will be armed with secret pen-cameras for tracking the movements of stalkers. The videos taken by squad members will also become evidence in cases of staking generally registered under sections 354D of IPC, the police’s circular reads.
The women cells were already there previously in each of the 95 police stations in Mumbai to look into the investigations of cases of sexual crimes against women and children, but with the new directives issued by the police commissioner, additional dedicated outdoor teams are entrusted with a slew of new duties focussing on prevention of such crimes, creating awareness, tracking habitual offenders, enlighting students and women with knowledge about their legal rights and laws pertaining to sexual offences, identifying victims, reaching out to them, encouraging them to speak out and then counsel them, said a senior police officer.
A special training centre will be created for the Nirbhaya Squads in each of the five regions under the supervision of respective additional police commissioners. At these centres, training will be given to the Nirbhaya Squad members pertaining to women safety and for providing counselling to victims of sexual crimes and juveniles caught in conflict with law.
The squad officers have also been asked to conduct sessions on self-defence technics, guide students and distribute booklets on laws and legal provisions meant for the safety, security and welfare of women.