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Panels at police stations to protect social activists

Police stations across in the city are forming committees at the local level involving social activists in a bid to protect them from any threat they may face in their line of duty.

Written by Sharvari Patwa | Mumbai | March 29, 2010 5:20:11 am

Police stations across in the city are forming committees at the local level involving social activists in a bid to protect them from any threat they may face in their line of duty.

“We have told police stations to form committees at the local level wherein the police can help genuine activists if there is any harm or threat to them in the way of their work,” Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime),Himanshu Roy,said,adding,“This would remove any disconnect between both parties¿These activists work at the local level and need help from the local police.”

“We have been told to approach local activists and inquire if there is any trouble and whether they need any police protection”,confirmed a police officer with Marine Lines police station adding that if a police officer feels a certain activist needs protection,it will be provided whether the activist seeks it or not.

The step comes over two months after civic activist Nayana Kathpalia,co-convenor of Citispace,an NGO fighting for open spaces in the city,was threatened by two unidentified men,who walked up to Kathpalia’s home in Churchgate in January and opened fire with country-made guns. Although no arrest has been made in the case,a police officer said they were investigating phone call details,which had been traced,to zero-in on the culprits.

After the incident,police had issued a circular directing all police Stations to promptly take cognizance of complaints lodged by social activists.

But the new step has not impressed some social activists. James Johan,an activist with citizen’s group AGNI,said,“It doesn’t matter how many committees are formed for the benefit of activists,as there is no fear of police in the minds of criminals¿”

There has been resentment among social activists following Pune-based RTI activist Satish Shetty’s murder in January. Shetty had exposed many land scams in Maharashtra.

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