‘Politicians, lay your hands off the police, allow them to function’: AA Khan; IPS

Aftab Khan


Mumbai and its citizens are again in turmoil. Predictably, outpouring of public ire is filling newspapers, clogging television channels and spilling on to the streets in the form of protests by women’s organisations.
Unfortunately our indignation over the government apathy against the police incompetence and the legal impotence of the system will remain shortlived, a kneejerk reaction as in the past, be it in Mumbai, Delhi, Jharkhand or elsewhere, and then back to bovine acceptance of our corrupted system.
We may well beat our breasts, hold torchlight processions and demonstrations of outrage over the police’s indifference towards the plight of women to the corrupt meddling of politicians, which has caused the pathetic deterioration in the efficacy of what was once arguably one of the finest police forces in the world.
Not too far back, less than two decades ago, even terrorists and members of the underworld cowered at the sight of at least some of the officers of the Mumbai police and spent sleepless moments when summoned to the police station. 
Now we have come to a stage where even lesser criminals, petty hoodlums, small drug pushers and the political riff-raff, not only look at the police with contempt but do not hesitate to use force against men in khaki. 
A complete breakdown in our criminal judicial system contributed in equal parts by meddlesome politicians of doubtful criminal background as also by senior level police officers, who bow and scrape before their political masters.
Defenseless women and helpless citizens are ground to dust beneath the boots of political and criminal despots, unhampered, if not actively aided, by an insipid police, manned by political appointees more interested in furthering economical well-being rather than maintaining public order and protecting the weaker sections of society.
A political system, which allows its elected legislators to brutally kick and claw at a police officer in the precincts of the state assembly. A system where police postings are bargained and brokered has dragged the police force to such depths of infamy that a woman who drags a would-be assaulter to the police station is made to feel like a criminal, a woman molested by roadside hoodlums is made to feel that she is of dubious virtue. A system where the police is focussed on finding sources and avenues of income and excuses for not functioning as it is meant to be.
I feel ashamed and degraded. I feel indignant about the police force, of which I was a proud member for over three decades, that has now sunk to such levels of infamy. There is not a single branch of the Mumbai police or for that matter any of the police forces in Maharashtra, which is not corrupted and tainted by the interference of the criminally corrupt politicians and the indifferent attitude of the superior officers. 
We used to talk proudly of our magnificent Mumbai traffic branch, which stood as an example to the other Forces in the country. And that very traffic branch is now busy finding ways to augment its income. When I first came to Mumbai, we were told that the primary aim of the traffic police was traffic control and management. Unfortunately, not so anymore.
Now, traffic policemen lurk a distance away from the intersections waiting to pounce on motorists, who break the law, for a petty penny. I have pointed this out to officers of the traffic branch that no policemen can be seen where there is utter chaos or there is a jam; but they are available in clusters where there is scope for gain.
Lest I be accused of being unduly harsh on only the police, let me make amends that other government departments such as the BMC, the MMRDA, the public health are more disgustingly perverse than the police.
But I feel strongly about the deterioration in the standard of the once magnificent men in khaki because at heart I still belong to that fraternity. More important, it is the only force that can protect the common man, the helpless man on the street.
The police force is adequate, the laws sufficiently effective; but it is only the enforcement that is lacking, hampered by political interference and the obsession with the non-policing duties that has rendered the force ineffective. The policemen, the patrolling vehicles and the communication system — meant for protecting the common man and for patrolling the mean streets of the lesser desirable parts of the city — are not concentrated in the trouble spots as they were earlier, but in VIP entourages and ministerial mansions. 
I had pointed out, not many years ago, that a horde of policemen with flashing beacons and screaming sirens escort not only the self-important and pompous chief minister, the home minister but also every other person whose ego needs to be publicly fuelled. An inept, inarticulate CM and a bungling officious HM who is perversely obsessed with bar girls than the larger problems troubling women. Even small-time politicians against whom criminal cases are pending, go around with armed policemen who are high-handed and arrogant in dealing with the common man.
But all levels of incredulity were stretched to the maximum when I came across a beer bar owner going around in a flashy Mercedes, obviously a product of his ill-gotten gain, escorted by four very supercilious looking policemen who cleared the public out of his way.
Enough of ranting and raving of a frustrated soul for one day. Let me get down to brass tacks and offer my humble opinion how to start setting things right.
The dignity of women-kind, the equal if not predominant role in the society needs to be emphasized time and again and the mindset of the lower strata of the society that a woman being a lesser being can be treated with lustful contempt has to be strongly negated.
Even politicians who have justified criminal outrage on the person of women by finding excuses in unsuitable dresses and attire need to be treated in the same way as sexual offenders. Emphatically it should be drilled in the male minds that a woman has the right to dress as she deems fit, to move and act as she desires and hold her head high in society which is fostered and nourished by womenkind.
Merely adding a few lines in school curriculum will not suffice as most sex fiends are school dropouts. It has to be dinned in their heads with force and for that we perhaps require a few more Dhobles, albeit a trifle more civilised version, to beat into the dim heads the importance and dignity of women.
It is equally important to allow senior police officers to manage the force. Recently, we’ve had an instance of one of the few upright officers, the DG of the state, confronting the powerful politicians on the issues of transfers and postings of subordinate staff, which was encroached upon by an interfering home minister and his acolytes in the bureaucracy.
Let the earlier system prevail where the subordinate police staff was accountable only to his seniors and a rigid system of discipline prevailed. A system where infractions by erring policemen were dealt with promptly and severely by departmental action. In such a system, which had flourished in my time, a Deshmukh who refused to assist a lady who dragged a potential assaulter to the RPF Station or a senior inspector and a beat officer who are unaware of the criminal dominance in the Shakti Mills premises would have been suspended and dismissed as a deterrent to other officers.
Let us organise seminars of interaction between the common citizens of the city with the officers and promote better understanding and sympathy for each other. Let me be fair and say it’s not only the policeman who’s to blame for the wide chasm, which now separates the police and the public. It is also the antagonistic attitude of some members of the public of the men in Khaki which accounts for this friction.
Let us introduce the old system of beat policing where the officer and the staff of a particular beat knew most of the people living in his area and had excellent rapport with them, which facilitated flow of information from the people to the police — something that is essential to control crime.
Without being immodest, let me tell you that when I was in charge of North Mumbai I had a rapport with the people, particularly those from the weaker sections, which enabled me and others to tackle hoodlums and bullies and prevent atrocities such as the ones we are now witnessing. True, we were accused of adopting extra legal and highhanded methods in dealing with criminals, but we did instil the fear of law in the rabble, which is now missing.
My advice to the politicians is: lay your hands off the police force and allow them to function effectively; and to the police: be proud of your uniform and be aware of the social responsibilities towards the people of this still magnificent city.

Published Date:  Aug 28, 2013: DNA

Cardinal Gracias: the gang rape in Mumbai, a sign of India’s social and spiritual decline


Cardinal Oswald Gracias 3

by Nirmala Carvalho
In the capital of Maharashtra, a 22-year-old photojournalist was attacked and raped by five men, who are now all in custody. The victim is in hospital and out of danger. For the archbishop of Mumbai, Indians must “bring God back at the centre of our lives [. . .] and follow the values of the Gospel. For the president of the Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), “Our system of values is seriously compromised.”

Mumbai (AsiaNews) – The brutal gang rape of a young photojournalist in Mumbai “reflects the decline in the spiritual, social and cultural life of our country. It is urgent to bring God back at the centre of our lives-in the family, in society, in the workplace-and lead us to the values ​​of the Gospel,” said Card Oswald Gracias.

Speaking to AsiaNews about the latest case of sexual assault that shocked the nation, the archbishop of Mumbai said that the incident, which occurred on 22 August, produced “deep anguish and anger.” It “is the worst thing a woman can undergo. Rape is physical and psychological terrorism, an abominable crime against the honour of women.”

The victim, a young 22-year-old photojournalist, was working as an intern at an English-language magazine based in Mumbai. Accompanied by a colleague, on that day she went to Shakti Mills, an abandoned former textile factory, to make a photo shoot. As they were leaving at the end of their work, they were attacked.

Surrounded by three men, they were told that they were not allowed to take pictures. The young woman phoned her boss, who told her to leave right away.

Then things got worse. The men, five of them at this point, beat up and tied the woman’s colleague; then dragged her behind a wall, turned off her cell phone and gang raped her.

According to the police, who eventually arrested all the suspects, the attackers forced the victim to clean up her own blood at the scene. At present, the young woman is in hospital in stable condition.

Maharashtra’s chief minister ordered a speedy trial against the five men, who are aged 18 to 23. Their case is similar to another serious gang rape in New Delhi, in December 2012.

“Unfortunately, our women and our children suffer violence and abuse even in their families, as well as in a society that humiliates, degrades, discriminates, excludes and exploits them,” Card Gracias told AsiaNews. “As morality is corroded and values corrupted, our system of values is seriously compromised.”

“The Church is a tool to serve society and the nation through education and our facilities,” the CBCI president said.

“I have already asked our schools to inculcate the values ​​of justice and respect for gender not only to students but also to parents. Mothers and fathers are important in raising awareness of how we treat women in our families. The Church in Mumbai and all of India will encourage a noble culture and society, built on equality, justice and respect between men and women. ”

For decades, the Indian Church has dedicated 8 September, feast day of theNativity of Mary, to girls.

Young students, Mumbai, India

Young students, Mumbai, India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bombay was safe. Is Mumbai safe?: Julio Rebeiro.

Super Cop of Yesteryears, Speakes about Mumbai: THEN AND NOW..

Julio Ribeiro

Julio Ribeiro: Former Police Commissioner of Mumbai

I was born in Bombay. Eighty-four years later I live in the same city, re-christened Mumbai which is very different from the Bombay I grew up in. As a student of Law in 1950 I used to attend the Sessions Courts to follow criminal trials. There were no adjournments asked or granted, hearings were from day to day and judgments delivered on the spot at the end of the arguments. Most murder cases ended in convictions and the few rape cases I heard concerned young girls below the statutory age, who had got involved in love
In 1950 after graduating in Commerce and Law I was employed as a sub-editor in a leading English daily the National Standard under HY Sharada Prasad. After a night shift I would return home by train from Victoria Terminus. Groups of young women returning from the Telephone Exchange, which also worked in shifts, were a common sight. And there was never any problem.
My first fifteen years in the Indian Police were spent in the districts. I remember only one case of rape and that was committed by a truant policeman on duty in the Adivasi area of Peint in the Nasik Distt. As Acting Superintendent of Police I had the policeman arrested and charged in record time. Such swift action was not uncommon in those days. And in less than a year the policeman was convicted and sentenced to a long term in jail. The certainty of retribution was a potent deterrent.
In my growing years Bombay was a safe city for women to travel. I think it still is despite Shakti Mill. My sister used to go to school and later to college by public bus alone and unaccompanied. Thirty years later we sent our daughters to live in a Mumbai college hostel without fear for their safety. Our city was safe, unlike Delhi, where I was posted for three years and the women complained of lecherous men in public buses. 
The population of the city has increased by a multiple of ten from the time of my birth. There is no discipline and no respect for the law or for fellow-citizens. Even the law makers break traffic and other rules! The police too have become indifferent to their core duties.
It is sad to hear stories of victims being asked to pay for getting their complaints registered and later for tracing the culprits. This did not happen thirty years ago when officers took pride in their work and would not rest till the criminals were brought to book.
This change in attitude at the level of the investigating officer is noticed even among supervisors who no longer command the same respect as my colleagues and I enjoyed. Corruption in the senior ranks was almost non-existent.
Most of today’s officers cultivate ‘godfathers’ from among the political class. Their juniors are even more adept in the art since the great majority of our elected representatives hail from the same stock.
In this scenario it is easy to operate if you harbour criminal intentions. Pelf or sheer indifference of the law enforcers will bail you out of trouble if by mischance you are caught. In better days directly-recruited supervisors would ensure that defaulters were dissuaded or were punished. Today many supervisors lack the moral authority to tell their men to behave.
If the police are to return to their professional agenda it is absolutely essential that this unhealthy relationship between them and the politicians should be jettisoned. It is the duty of the elected representatives to keep a hawk’s eye on the policemen and their leaders and bring all transgressions to notice. This was the case when I joined service in the fifties.
The Home Minister Mr. RR Patil should try to understand this essential premise. He has been at the wrong end of the stick for his unfortunate comments and his penchant for moral policing. His problem with bar dancers emanates from the fact that his rural supporters have burnt their fingers in dance bars. Actually, he is better than many of his predecessors who routinely encouraged the wrong people. 
Where I disagree with him is about Police Reforms. If introduced in spirit these should help him to have a more professional police force. Corruption will decline by more than fifty percent overnight and the quality of policing will improve if the reforms go through. 
His colleagues in his own party, however, are not interested. They want to control postings and transfers. And they do not care if the current dispensation does not induce fear of the law in the minds of rapists like the boys involved in the Shakti Mill episode.

Published Date:  Aug 29, 2013 : DNA

Women need equality, not protection: Virginia Saldanha.

Until things change fundamentally, India remains unsafe for females.


The gang rape of a young photojournalist on August 22 in Mumbai is just the latest in a string of such brutal attacks across India.

In each case, the media moves into overdrive by capturing every frame and soundbite to maximize the sensational aspects of the crimes. As well, the vocal urban middle class gathers in public squares to express their collective outrage.

But the rapes of poor and lower caste women in remote villages go unreported or get buried in statistical records in the crimes bureau.

Instead of helping to manufacture outrage, the media needs to approach these appalling crimes with greater sensitivity, while focusing on the attackers rather than the victims. This will put more pressure on the legal system to function properly, while ensuring that victims and their families stay out of the public gaze so they can heal.

In the case of the Mumbai photojournalist, the media have targeted the survivor, her family and the families of the accused – thereby compounding their pain.

The photojournalist, who works for an English magazine, was gang raped at an abandoned textile factory in the city, where she had gone on assignment along with a colleague. Police arrested all five alleged attackers in less than a week.

The speed of the arrests is laudable, but the knee-jerk response to the attack by RR Patil, home minister of Maharashtra state, is not.

Patil has offered police protection to all women journalists, a move that implies that women need protection because authorities cannot prevent men from attacking them, or that men lack the capacity to view women as human beings rather than objects to be abused.

The myth that women require protection serves only to restrict their freedom and rob them of their confidence and opportunities.

Authorities have touted the updated Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013, but it cannot ensure that police will function efficiently or that the justice system will mete out speedy justice so that survivors of these brutal attacks can move on with their lives. And so, India remains unsafe for all females.

Greater pressure is needed to urge the government to introduce much-needed police reforms that have been in the pipeline for years. Police should not allow politicians to hamper their investigations or divert their attention from preventing crimes.

Various reports have shown that police patrolling is weak in crime-prone areas of Mumbai because nearly 28,000 of the city’s 49,000 police officers have been deployed for the protection of so-called ‘very important persons’, which translates as politicians and bureaucrats.

Also, the government urgently needs to appoint more judges to clear the backlog of cases in the courts and avoid lengthy trials. It is distressing to hear relatives of women who have lost their lives in attacks lament the time it takes to seek justice. They suffer more than the perpetrators, most of whom never get convicted.

The conviction rate countrywide for crimes against women is as low as 24.2 percent. Some 70 percent of rape-accused in jails are repeat offenders. These statistics show that crimes against women are not taken seriously in the country. When this is the message, there is hardly any deterrent for those who commit the crimes.

How can India change a deeply rooted mindset that views women as objects that are free for the taking by men? And given that society generally looks upon rape survivors as “damaged goods,” how do we help these victims overcome the fear or shame of reporting rape, incest and other forms of sexual abuse instead of remaining silent for the sake of family honor?

Men have been brought up to believe that they are a privileged class and therefore above women. Across class and caste, most boys are brought up like little kings surrounded by doting grandmothers, defensive mothers, subservient sisters and submissive wives. This instills in them notions of power, privilege and entitlement they have done nothing to deserve.

Change of the sort needed in India does not happen in a short span of months. Systems and mindsets must be altered. In the meantime, women will be forced to take responsibility for their own safety. They cannot allow the threat of violence to curb their mobility, their studies or their employment opportunities. Women must remain confident but prudent while enjoying their right to freedom.

Virginia Saldanha is the former executive secretary of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences Office of Laity and a freelance writer and advocate for women’s issues based in Mumbai


Women Equality ,Mumbai ,Photojournalist ,Gangrape ,Women Protection 
Mumbai police headquarters fort

Mumbai police headquarters fort (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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