The shocking gang rape of a female photojournalist in the same week that renowned rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar was brazenly murdered has shaken up the state’s law and order machinery.
Unsurprisingly, RR Patil once again finds himself in a precarious position. Trying his best to take the situation head-on, the state home minister yesterday announced that female journalists reporting in isolated areas would be given police protection, a measure that many have termed unworkable.
The minister said a lady cop would be deputed to accompany the media person, without raising any questions over the particulars of the assignment. If any female scribe feels insecure while visiting a particular spot, she can approach the local police station and show her identity card to get the cover, Patil told a delegation of media persons at Mantralaya.
Expressing shock over the incident, office bearers of media organisations said anti-social elements were often sighted at secluded spots in the city.
Such persons and junkies roam freely, especially at railway stations, as police patrolling and action have become rare, they complained.
Replying to the grievances and concerns, Patil said every required step would be taken for ensuring speedy justice in the case — from trial at a fast track court to early filing of charge sheet.
Before making the announcements, the minister had a meeting with ace lawyer Ujjwal Nikam at his office, but did not disclose the latter’s name.
To avert recurrence of such untoward incidents, Patil said a special campaign would be undertaken to displace criminals, drug addicts from secluded spots, closed mills and premises.
Instructions would be issued to close illegal entry points along with appointment of security personnel to the owners concerned.
If any sites are found disputed, BMC would be asked to take effective steps in this regard, said the home minister.
He also informed the press about orders to extern historysheeters active in Shakti Mills premises.
Besides supporting a special legislation to deal with attacks on journalists, Patil said a committee comprising representatives of media organisations would be set up, and periodic reviews done every month.