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

1 Comment

  1. August 29, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    Mr. Ribeiro talks with nostalgia of any era in police efficiency and more importantly HONESTY in the police force. It is indeed sad that honesty in the police force in all of India is nowadays something that is a pipe dream. I have been an administrator in a few leading organisations, and over the years have had to be in contact with various governmental departments; many times with the police. In my personal experience I have estimated that between 95% and 98% of the police personnel I have had to deal with were dishonest in one way or another. Only some, do not take direct cash; but the corruption takes other sides– bottles of scotch, in the old days imported cigarettes; hotel accommodation in holiday spots; free food in five star hotels; renovation/airconditioning the home; etc. etc. If it comes to pass, I wonder how many cops/ex-cops present financial status and property holdings can stand the test of a scrutiny; I feel only a handful will pass the test, at the most. A handful really means 5%.
    Go to any police station/chowky in our country and try to make a complaint or ask for some assistance; you will be treated like an “AROPI” (accused); and the cops there will see how much they can get out of you.
    If the traffic cops get you in a jam, and if you do not have the cash on you to pay them off they will drive you to the A T M in the cop car/motorbike
    The Economic Offences Wing is the biggest sham/scam in the police force; I know I am still suffering today because of their corruption.
    Where have the good guys like the Scott brothers ( Jimmy and Eric ) Farooqui, Saxby and others like them vanished to ???
    So, dear Mr. Ribeiro live out the rest of the days God grants you and just forget the GOOD OLD DAYS My personal regards to you; if you ever are in Lonavla, it will be my privilege to shake your hand !!!!


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