On Thursday, a tailor who wanted to confess to murdering his best friend was turned away from two police stations, both claiming that the crime didn’t occur in their jurisdiction. The confessor first visited Shivaji Nagar police station in Govandi, relating the minutest details of his crime. But instead of putting him in jail, the cops sent him to Dindoshi Police, who directed him to Kurar Police, who finally accepted his surrender and arrested him.
Until now, this used to happen when people visited police stations to register FIRs. A majority of people who have tried to have their grievances addressed at a police station return disappointed, as cops either refuse to take down their complaint, or dissuade them from lodging one. In many cases they even dilute the seriousness of the issue to serve somebody’s interest, or in extreme cases, intimidate the complainants.
Legitimate FIRs usually end up as non-cognisable offences. In other instances, dacoities are turned into robberies, robberies reported as thefts, and thefts as ‘missing articles’. There have even been instances where the policemen have been found guilty of clandestinely moving dead bodies found in their area to the jurisdiction of neighbouring police stations to shirk the work of dealing with it.
Mumbai Police’s figure of reported crimes usually hovers around 25,000 each year. In the mid ’90s, it rose substantially after the then police commissioner, Satish Sahney, made it mandatory to turn all police complaints into FIRs. The year after Sahney demitted office, the figure slid back to 25,000.
Unless the department imposes strict punishment for underreporting crime, the police station officials will continue to refuse filing FIRs or underrate grave or heinous offences that occur in their jurisdiction.
Cops should realise that instead of juggling the jurisdiction issue, if they give priority to registering complaints and making arrests, it would help the force make a dent in the crime rate in the city.