Mumbai Police appoints housewife secret service to nab rapists

Desperate to curb sexual violence in the city, cops have turned to housewives for help; as a pilot project, five women ‘detectives’ in Antop Hill and Wadala have been trained to work ‘as the eyes and ears’ of the police to track anti-social elements

Your friendly neighbourhood housewife may be an undercover detective for the police. Mumbai Police have decided to turn to housewives in Antop Hill and Wadala areas in order to nab potential rapists and molesters roaming the streets. The move comes after a spate of rape and molestation cases in these areas.

Representational pic
Representational pic

These areas have seen many cases of rapes and molestation, especially involving minors, police sources said. According to police officials, 71 cases of rape were registered in Antop Hill and Wadala TT police stations together, last year. There have been many cases of minor girls from the area being kidnapped and raped as well (see box).

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The police have formed a team of five housewives, who will work as their eyes and ears. These five women are from five different precincts across these areas, and have been specially trained to spot womanisers, drug addicts, other suspicious looking people, and anti-social elements in the locality.

These ‘police detectives’ have been imparted special training to keep an eye on people and track them. Confirming the development to mid-day, Deven Bharti, joint commissioner of police (law and order), said, “Yes, this is a pilot project we have started. The women have been given special training and will act as the eyes and ears of Mumbai police.”

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Bharti further added that in these areas i.e. Antop Hill and Wadala, police have observed a rise in the number of crimes (kidnapping and rape) against minor girls and women, which led to the initiative being taken.  “We will extend the (pilot) project to colleges and other places in the coming days.

Protecting these women (detectives) and keeping their identity secret is paramount. Any information they provide will be dealt with on urgent basis,” Bharti said. The identity of the five detectives is secret; nobody, except their husbands, knows about their involvement in the project.

A senior police officer who was part of the project revealed more details. “Five women were picked from different areas. In four different sessions, we trained them how to track people. They were taught the methods police use to follow people.

These women can identify drug and alcohol addicts, womanisers, suspicious elements, people who touch and keep a watch on young girls, unidentified people,” he explained. mid-day also spoke to one of these chosen detectives. “I am a housewife and was given training in four different meetings.

Besides learning how to track people and gather information, we were taught how to be safe ourselves, as well. We have to be vigilant 24x7. I will do my job properly and protect the society,” she said. None of her relatives, neighbours, or friends know of her newfound responsibility.

The senior officer mentioned earlier said these women have been given personal phone numbers of the deputy commissioner of police (DCP), assistant commissioner of police (ACP), senior police inspectors, and beat officers. “They can contact anyone at any point in the day. These detectives will have to keep a proper watch and roam around the whole area,” he added. The team started work on Saturday evening.

Former top cops say

Satyapal Singh, former Mumbai police commissioner
It is a very innovative idea and I welcome this project. Incidents of rape have increased in Mumbai and it is difficult to keep a tab (on criminals). Housewives’ involvement will help police get ground-level information (in places) where police aren’t able to reach.

Y C Pawar, former joint commissioner of police
The ratio of policemen and crimes never matched in Mumbai. Crime and population has increased. Housewives’ becoming the police’s eyes and ears is a great move.

Unsafe areas
Wadala TT and Antop Hill areas have seen a spate of rape cases involving minors

>> Last month, a five-year-old girl was kidnapped and later raped in the Antop Hill dumping ground. The accused left her bleeding on the road. Even as the girl bled and cried in pain, cops from Antop Hill and Wadala TT police station fought over jurisdiction. Two cops were suspended after the incident and the incident raised several questions on the way Mumbai police works

>> In March this year, a four-year-old girl was lured by a neighbour while she was playing, taken to an isolated spot in Wadala, and raped

>> In October last year, a 9-year-old was gagged, dragged into the jungle and raped. The accused later left her on the road and the child went home and narrated the incident

>> In December last year, the same man who had raped the 9-year-old was caught while trying to ensnare another child in the area

How they will work
>> If a man is approaching a small girl while she is playing or even otherwise, the detective will track him
>> They will watch out for druggies, people consuming alcohol, and other unknown people in the area
>> They will also go on walks, speak to people and develop sources without revealing their identity, using tips given by the police. They will be extra vigilant in areas frequented by minors 
>> The detectives have also been taught to follow people from a distance, without exposing themselves

Road show to spread awareness
Besides the team of detectives, police have also taken to the road to educate people about how rapists, molesters and unknown people target girls. The 24-minute video clip, which also uses animations and cartoons, is being shown on an outdoor screen in several areas.

The video teaches parents and children to identify a “bad touch” i.e. if anyone touches a young girl on her chest, navel or private parts. Girls are taught to inform their parents if anyone ever touches them in this manner. This project is being helmed by Joint Commissioner of Police Deven Bharti

Number of cases of rape registered in Antop Hill and Wadala TT police stations together, last year

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