On Thursday, Mumbai Crime Branch officials arrested two assistant inspectors and a constable from Sakinaka police station for raping a model inside a police chowkie. Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria played a key role in getting the policemen arrested by acting promptly and ensuring that they were put behind bars immediately.
This is not an isolated case. Since February 2014, when Maria took over as the police chief, stringent action has been taken against police officials found guilty of committing offences. This has resulted in a drastic increase in the number of arrests of such black sheep in the force.
The arrests have also sent out the strong message that atrocities against women will not be tolerated, irrespective of whether the accused is a civilian or a person in khaki. This has led to women being imbued with courage to stand up against their perpetrators.
That is also part of the reason why Mumbai has witnessed a marked increase in crime against women being reported. As per a Praja Foundation report, there was a 59 per cent increase in cases of crime against women being reported between April 2013 and March 2014.
The police department should consider it an achievement to have instilled faith in women in the city, who are coming forward and reporting cases.
Until not so long ago, senior officers used to try and cover up for policemen on the lower levels when they were found on the wrong side of the law, to avoid letting the khaki get stained. It is important for any police chief to know that by not taking action against policemen and keeping the actual crime rate under wraps, he will only be inviting bigger trouble in the near future.
Unless action is taken against tainted cops and the message to molestors and rapists is loud and clear, no woman will be able to walk freely on the streets, tarnishing Mumbai’s cherished image as a city where women can feel safe.