Hyderabad: Most live in slums and do menial jobs for a living: in construction, hospitality, plumbing, masonry, lorry drivers and autorickshaw drivers. Some are vaga-bonds. Come evening and they hang out near wine shops where they spend the night drinking, picking fights which often turn violent, while others who are high just stare or pass comments at passers-by. On the city’s outskirts, these men vanish into the hillocks where they get drunk and create a nuisance on the way back to their slums — all unchecked.
While the Telangana police’s “brainstorming” in the aftermath of the gang-rape and murder of 27-year-old veterinarian Disha was limited to talking about “Dial 100” or the “Hawkeye” app and ended with the gunning down of the four accused — the police has hardly a plan of action of keeping a tab on the unorganised sector — which roughly constitutes over 85 per cent of rapes and other crimes.
As experienced hands point out, the Telangana police appear to have missed that Disha’s case was a semi-urban phenomenon, which needs the police to get back to basics and take up strict enforcement in areas where the unorganised sector lives or hangs around.
“In a situation where a woman could be targeted, the first thing the attacker would do is to snatch her mobile phone; the chances of use of mobile safety apps or dialling 100 is minimal,” a senior police officer told Deccan Chronicle. “Only in some cases do women display a presence of mind to dial the police or use the safety app. The need of the hour is to instill fear and keep a tab on the unorganised sector and take up strict vigil around wine shops, highways, isolated places and hillocks, and even tourist spots.”
The officer says that neither is there a concrete plan nor enough logistics like manpower and vehicles. Also, the jurisdiction of each police station is vast.
In the absence of manpower and vehicles, there is less or no police patrolling in areas where members of the unorganised sector live or visit. This at a time when the state government is spending more than `400 crore on the construction of a state-of the art twin-tower fortress for the Telangana police in Banjara Hills.
The problem is grave in the Cyberabad and Rachakonda areas — whose jurisdictional sprawl is vast compared to police stations in Hyderabad city.
“Cyberabad and Rachakonda are expanding drastically and contain a lot of semi-rural areas. In Hyderabad we may need four patrol vehicles to keep an eye at a particular police station but in Cyberabad and Rachakonda, the jurisdiction of each police station is eight to 10 times bigger. So we may require about 15 or more vehicles and more manpower. As a result, policing in many areas is nil except when something happens,” points out another police official in Cyberabad.
He says strict enforcement in the unorganised sector could bring the crime rate down to a great extent.
Shadnagar police station in Cyberabad, in whose area Disha’s charred body was found, has 29 villages and 19 hamlets and a population of 1.20 lakh. Only 55 policemen serve this area. Keshampet police station, spread across 218.4 square km, has 19 villages and 35 hamlets and a population of close to 43,000 — has merely 25 policemen. The Shamshabad police station serves a population of 4 lakh (21 villages and 15 hamlets) but has 78 policemen.
The Pahadishareef police limits in Rachakonda, spread across 80 km and serving a population of 1.6 lakh, has about 95 personnel.
The 60 Hyderabad police stations are each spread across a five to 12 km radius on an average, though policemen number less compared to the population. The day-to-day law and order duty and bandobust keeps them busy.
One option is to break the existing 37 police stations in Cyberabad and over 50 in Rachakonda into more police stations. This would require more manpower.
If the state government is serious about the safety of women, then this is the only solution, they say.