Police top brass should look within

Feb 18, 2014, 07:26 IST | MiDDAY Correspondent

Yesterday, this paper carried a front page report on a cop molesting a female cop inside the Nagpada Police Hospital

Yesterday, this paper carried a front page report on a cop molesting a female cop inside the Nagpada Police Hospital.

The newly recruited female cop was in hospital after breaking her leg in training. The report states that Navnath Prafful Khedke (30), who is employed with the Mumbai Police’s Motor Vehicles Department and is now posted with Dr Patil of Nagpada Police Hospital as a driver, is the key accused. Apart from him, Mahesh Laxman Bariya (31), a cleaner at the medical institute, and Shankar Pandurang Ambavale (42), a ward boy, was also taken into custody.

The report states that the three connived and then, Navnath molested the woman in a room at the hospital while Shankar locked the door from outside. The woman screamed after which the door was opened, but the accused had threatened the woman not to talk to anybody. The woman, though, did tell a couple of doctors after which, the accused were taken into custody.

The report comes at a time when the newly minted Commissioner of Police, Rakesh Maria, has promised security for women in the city. The timing is sure to become highly embarrassing for the police, as the common man would be apt to scoff at Maria’s claims now. Also the uppermost question in a layperson’s mind would be: if a cop is not safe, then how can ordinary women be safe and secure in this city? The incident also comes at a time when people are simmering about sexual violence targeting women. From molestations, rapes and physical assaults, the list seems endless. The Shakti Mills gang rape case ignited a city and forced people to relook at Mumbai’s ‘safe city for women’ tag.

Then, there is the fact that the current molestation case took place of all places, in a police hospital. It is one more strong indicator that safe places in the city for women are shrinking at an alarming rate. We have read reports of women being molested in doctors’ clinics and in hospitals. If a police hospital, too, is unsafe, then one has to wonder where is safe anymore for women? While it is unfair to tarnish an entire force because of one episode, it is also disturbing that somebody who is a protector turns molester himself. There has to be the strictest punishment for this, with a clear-cut signal. It’s time for the police top brass to look within.

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