25-year-old lawyer Pallavi Purkayastha has shaken up Mumbai. It has also stirred up an important but often neglected issue — the verification of security guards standing outside the city’s innumerable buildings. One of them — Sajjad Ahmed Ajiz Mughal alias Pathan (25) — killed Pallavi after unsuccessfully attempting to rape her at the latter’s Bhakti Park residence in Wadala. Cops have booked security agency AH Enterprises for hiring Pathan.

This is not the first time that a protector has turned predator. In the past, Mumbai police has arrested hundreds of watchmen who keep pouring into the city brandishing fake licences, often procured from Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh or Manipur. As these places are far away from the city, private security agencies rarely bother to authenticate the documents. With the crackdown, several such agencies came under the police scanner and licences of many were revoked. But a few years later, the drive lost steam.

After every murder at a residential society, cops blame either citizens or the societies for not being thorough in checking out their respective guards. The residents, however, cite lack of funds as reason for not being able to do more.

Despite a series of meetings and discussions on hiring authenticated guards from registered security agencies, the societies have practically been putting the lives of their residents at risk, in order to save a few thousand rupees, cops say.

On the other hand, the police department does not have an appropriate medium or channel through which they can keep a vigil on the credentials of security agencies. The testimonials of thousands of security guards submitted at police stations have been gathering dust. Looks like a lot needs to change for us to feel safer at the places we call home.