THE CALL of duty for these constables every night is to keep their weight and crime in check by safeguarding the Queen’s Necklace as dusk falls.
Following last monsoon season, the Mumbai Police deployed men on customised racing bicycles to curb chain-snatching, bag-lifting and incidents of molestation on all sea-facing promenades. At Marine Drive, with the wind in their hair and the streets’ LED lights illuminating the 3.5-km stretch, any evening ride for these beat officers on cycles have been “a luxury”, they say. They’re not riding on pothole-riddled roads, the sea offers an ambience like none other, and the experiences are varied.
“We have the luxury of riding on the smoothest stretch in the city. Our tyres rarely get punctured and we have to pump air into our tyres more than once a month,” said a constable, attached with the Marine Drive police station, who is among those deputed to ride on the South Mumbai sea face since December last year.
The customised bicycles painted in blue does not have multiple gears as they have to be ridden at “walking pace” and no ring-bells that may disturb runners. “People come in different moods some in good and some in bad, we want to let them be. By ringing the bell at them to make space will only inconvenience hem,” said one constable.
“We ride between 5 am and 9 am and again at 5 pm to 11 pm. Between these hours our eyes are trained at look for specific specimens who could create mischief,” said an officer.
According to them, in the morning there are several threats of thefts as senior citizens and women are targeted but at night they are on the lookout for molesters. “Mumbai is considerably safe when compared with other cities. Women enjoy a lot of freedom here. Some run, walk, sit with their girlfriends or even alone along this stretch. We are able to sanitise the area of miscreants who harass women,” said another officer who claims the police’s increased presence has drastically reduced crimes.
At Marine Drive, four constables attached with the Marine Drive police station ride on the stretch at one time, two from either sides. These constables wear green jackets with reflectors and have a bottle of water to help them quench their thirst.
“Over here, about 60 per cent of the visitors are locals who live nearby. People in their pyjamas sit at here at night,” said an
officer, who claims he has lost more than eight kilos in less than two months.