Till date, only married couples have visited the police counselling cell; staff trained by NGOs
TV star Pratyusha Banerjee’s suicide has prompted the Mumbai police to get the word out on its counselling services for couples in live-in relationships as well. Till date, the counselling cell, which functions under the women’s grievance cell, had seen complaints from only married couples, even though it’s open to all.
The Mumbai police’s counselling cell for couples has seen it all — from spouses troubled by social media platforms taking over their lives to partners suspecting each other's fidelity. Illustration/Uday Mohite
Sub-Inspector G Chavan from the counselling cell explained that the personnel have been trained by NGOs and guided by senior IPS officers in handling cases. The cell, set up in 2006, has a staff of 10, including two women police personnel, Vrushali Raut and Shubhangi Mohite. It used to function out of three centres — in Santacruz, Chembur and near the police commissioner’s office in Fort — but staff crunch forced the police to keep just the Fort cell open.
Cell in-charge PB Chalke said the staff looks at amicable solutions for couples. “We bring both parties together and try to resolve the matter. There is no pressure or fear of the police; we are just counsellors.”
When mid-day visited the cell, a couple was counselled from the afternoon till late evening. Raut said the staff is available at all times. “We skipped lunch today to ensure that the couple finds an amicable resolution.”
She also added that unlike private counsellors, the Mumbai police’s unit doesn’t charge any money from couples.
Citing examples of some cases, an official at the counselling cell said, “There are different reasons why people come to us. Some doubt their partner’s fidelity. Some complain that their spouse doesn’t respect their work or relatives. There was a husband who complained that his wife didn’t spend quality time with him and ignored him after coming back from work. His grouse was that she just sat in front of the TV, and was constantly on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.”
Another officer recalled that a mother-in-law once instigated her son against his wife, a working professional, over household chores. “Another time, a woman alleged that her husband was forcing her into wife-swapping and had slept with his friend’s wife.”
Another cop cited the case of a woman who complained about the lack of freedom to work at her in-laws’ house.