The culprits behind the series of break-ins plaguing the fringe areas of Pune might have been apprehended by the Pune Police, but citizens and activists point out that the real rot in the system is far from being addressed.
Low visibility of law enforcers, a lack of security safeguards and a general lack of societal intervention, they say, has made newly developed areas of the city easy targets for break-ins.
With the growth of both Pune and its neighbouring Pimpri Chinchwad in terms of population and real estate, the area has witnessed many socio-economic changes.
The place of daily wage earners has been taken up by IT professionals and stay-at-home parents have taken the place of working parents.
However, along with economic prosperity, crimes like break-ins have seen a phenomenal rise, especially in the fringe areas of the city. Figures show that more than 82,000 housing societies have been registered in the city in the last two years, which can be taken as an indicator of the growth of the city.
Police authorities point out that the majority of the break-ins are reported from flats in housing societies and that too in newly developed areas like Hinjewadi, Pashan-Sus Road, Wakad, Handewadi, Moshi Pradhikaran, Rahatani, Ravet and Bavdhan. Analysis of the data on break-ins reveals that a majority of them happen during the afternoon, when the houses are normally locked.
Also in many of the cases, the immediate neighbours seemed to have completely overlooked the happenings in their vicinity.
A major drawback in the policing of the city, senior police officers point out, is the lack of enough manpower to police the city. The 8,000-strong police force of Pune, they say, is not enough to man the population of around 60 lakhs, which represents the population of both Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad.
Officers point out that the newly merged villages were assigned to the existing police station, without any subsequent increase in the police force.
Nana Walke, a resident of Aundh, stated that of late, break-ins have started that no visible steps taken by the police to install confidence amongst the people. “My own house was broken into and within a span of 48 hours, there were three cases of break-ins in the area. Yet there have been no increase in policing in the area,” he said.
Walke pointed out how in the modern day flat system, the concept of community policing has taken a backseat.
“Earlier, people used to keep in touch one way or the other. But now, there is hardly any interaction between neighbours, and so the concept of community policing is dead,” he said.
While Walke points out flaws in the social fabric, a social worker from Wakad, Datta Saikar, pointed out how citizens are also to be blamed for not being vigilant.
“We have come across cases where neighbours turned a blind eye to incidents of break-ins happening in their neighbourhood. When asked by the cops, they admitted that they thought the noises were due to renovation work being carried out. There have been cases when many saw the malefactors carrying away the loot but they did not do anything as they thought it was someone shifting their residence. We need to change this apathetic attitude and start participating in our society,” he said.
Both Walke and Saikar pointed out how in many cases members of societies refuse to do their bit to strengthen security.
“Security seems to be the last thing on the mind of societies. While they are ready to spend enough money on landscaping, they are reluctant to spend money on security guards and CCTV cameras. This has to change,” he pointed out.