Why setting up police beat chowkies in Mumbai is a failed experiment
Deonar's Rafiq Nagar police chowkie is in absolute ruin. mid-day looks at five such chowkies built ostensibly to curb crime, but which have ended up as dumping yards and cattle sheds
They were supposed to respond faster to crimes, connect with residents and focus on intelligence gathering within localities, but several police beat chowkies in the city have fallen prey to the key problem they were supposed to tackle — encroachments.
mid-day puts the spotlight on five such chowkies that promised us the moon but wound up in no time.
Chunabhatti chowkie no. 2
Established: 10-12 years ago
Defunct since: 5 years
Good luck trying to find this chowkie. If you’re persistent enough, follow the moos. The chowkie in front of Gulistan Apartment in Qureshi Nagar in Kurla East is now used to tether cattle. Emboldened encroachers have gone to the extent of wiping the beat number off the structure and taking down the police board. It used to be under the jurisdiction of the Nehru Nagar police station. But police presence in the chowkie dwindled since the establishment of the Chunabhatti police station around six years ago. The area earned notoriety in 2010 for the rapes and murders of three minors. A man was convicted in one of the cases last year. The other two cases are still unresolved.
Shivaji Nagar chowkie no. 4
Established: 3 years ago
Defunct since: 1 year
This facility, better known as the Sanjay Nagar beat chowkie, is just 100 m from the Deonar dumping ground. Lying vacant for years, it was opened after the monstrous blaze of February 26, 2015, that covered the entire area in a smog for days. It was supposed to keep tabs on activities at the dumping ground. A year on, the chowkie itself has turned into a dumpyard — it is used by a local builder to store construction material. Deonar is communally sensitive, making a functional beat chowkie all the more imperative in the area.
Bhandup chowkie no. 1
Loo and behold!
Established: 6 years ago
Defunct since: 2 years
Hold your breath while entering this beat chowkie in the slum-dominated Tulshet Pada locality in Bhandup. Ever since a public toilet came up next to it two years ago, many police personnel have refused to turn up because of the stench. They have even complained of ailments to their seniors and have asked to be excused from beat duties because of them. The chowkie was set up to tackle the growing complaints of theft and street sexual harassment.
Established: 7 years ago
Defunct since: 4 years
Mandala Indira Nagar in Mankhurd was allegedly a haven for anti-social elements in 1994. Reports of extortions, assaults, robberies and murders flew thick and fast back then. Harassed locals approached then senior police inspector Sadanand Sai Shete of Shivaji Nagar police station, which had jurisdiction over the area then, and requested a beat chowkie. Shete asked them to provide space for such a facility. In 1996, seven local traders of bamboo and plastic, who had encroached upon a stretch of the Mandala locality, ‘gave up’ their spots for a chowkie. After the chowkie was set up, the crime graph had registered a drastic drop. But slowly, the land mafia ate into both sides of the chowkie, turning it into a gym. When the gym failed, the site was assimilated by the adjacent chawl.
Rafiq Nagar chowkie no. 1
Hole in the wall
Established: 10 years ago
Defunct since: 2 years
This chowkie at the far end of the Deonar dumpyard is in absolute ruin. It has been broken down to such an extent that its fragile brick walls, with large chunks of them hollowed out, are all that remain today. The chowkie, which falls under the Shivaji Nagar police station, has turned into a den of anti-social elements.