The women’s cell of the Mumbai police Crime Branch has been directed to investigate the sexual assault on two minor girls at the Home for Mentally Deficient Children in Mankhurd, which came to light last week.
In the first year of its existence, the cell has investigated seven cases. However, it continues to grapple with staff shortage and awaits a permanent police station.
The cell was launched on March 8, 2013, in the aftermath of the brutal gangrape of a woman in a moving bus in December 2012, in Delhi. The state home department had even issued a special government resolution to clear the decks for the formation of the cell.
At least 83 officers, including a Deputy Commissioner of (DCP), had been sanctioned for the cell. Funds for the cell were to be drawn from the police modernisation fund that was already allotted to the Mumbai police. All or a majority of the personnel of the cell were supposed to be women.
In the past one year, the Women’s Cell has been investigating seven cases. Of these seven cases, the police have filed chargesheets in five cases, including four of harassment of married women by their husbands or in-laws.
“A case of harassment filed in Dahisar, by a BMC corporator against Shiv Sena MLA Vinod Ghosalkar, is also under investigation at present,” said inspector Sangeeta Patil. The corporator had alleged that Ghosalkar’s aides had scribbled her phone number in a public toilet, following which she received several obscene calls.
The cell personnel, who have been picked from various units of the crime branch across the city, work out of the traffic police training school in Byculla on a temporary basis and have not been given a police station.
“We have no vehicle at our disposal or a proper police station. We have to manage with a make-shift arrangement at the traffic police training school,” said a police officer attached to the cell.
Apart from the Dahisar case, the cell has been assigned cases that need to be looked at closely to make them watertight. “In the MHB area in Borivali, a deaf and mute girl was raped by the owner of a general store inside his shop in December 2013. We had to call in a hearing-impaired tutor to understand what the girl was gesturing. As she was in a state of shock, we had to deal with her carefully to get all the details and nail the accused. We will file a chargesheet in the case soon,” said Patil.
As per statistics available with the Mumbai Police, since the Shakti Mills gangrape in August 2013, 220 cases of rape have been registered.
Last year (January to December 2013), there were 388 cases of rape registered across the city. However, the women’s cell has investigated just three rape and molestation cases.
“The team is short-staffed. We are, however, in the process of recruiting more women,” said DCP (Crime Branch) Ambadas Pote.