Last week, Mumbai Police announced the formation of a women’s safety cell and Nirbhaya Squads at 90 police stations across the city. The decision came after Mumbai police commissioner, Hemant Nagrale, issued a circular in the aftermath of the brutal assault, rape, and murder of a 32-year-old woman inside a tempo at Sakinaka recently.
Each police station will have a special patrolling van called the Nirbhaya Squad. The team will have a woman police officer and a woman police constable, along with a policeman and a driver. “The Nirbhaya Teams are being made with an aim to create a respectful environment for women in the society, to create fear of law in minds of sexual predators and to curb cases of crime against women,” states a press note issued by the Mumbai Police.
The squads have been directed to carry out a set of duties on a daily basis which includes keeping a tab on sexual offenders, training women in self-defense, organising workshops, counselling victims, collecting intelligence on predators, and, most importantly, visiting schools, colleges and NGO centres in slum pockets to create awareness among minor girls about the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act and other provisions put in place to safeguard them. All police stations have also been directed to identify vulnerable areas where women were targeted in the past and enhance patrolling, besides keeping eyes on secluded or crowded places. The teams will be given pen-cameras to track the movement of stalkers and to record the daily activities of the team members.
A special centre will also be set up for these teams in each of the five regions (east, west, south, north, central) headed by five regional Additional Police Commissioners. A woman Assistant Police Commissioner and a woman Police Inspector will be appointed in each region as nodal officers in charge of monitoring the teams’ daily activities. The centre will be used to impart training to the teams, conduct awareness sessions on laws pertaining to women’s safety and provide counselling to survivors of sexual crimes and juveniles in conflict with the law.