All is not well with police stations and police personnel in Maharashtra, a state-wide survey of 437 station houses conducted by teams of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has revealed, a party official said here on Friday.
The survey, set to coincide with the 191st birth anniversary (April 11) of reformer Mahatma Jyotirao G. Phule, who was a pioneer in championing women's rights and education -- have thrown up startling insights into the functioning of the police stations, said AAP state head Brig Sudhir Sawant (retd).
"We interacted with police stations, at various levels and petitioned them to initiate more pro-active measures to fight gender-based violence and sexual harassment and assault on women," Sawant told IANS.
The worrying aspect that emerged was that in many police stations, there were no women staffers, while most police stations appeared to be under-staffed, including women at senior ranks.
This is despite a proposal being mooted after the Nirbhaya episode for setting up all-women police stations across the country, but there is not a single such station house even in Mumbai, Sawant said.
"Police expressed difficulties in protecting witnesses, especially in sensitive matters, with the result that the witnesses turn hostile and affect the prosecution case in court. Some women police officials also shared the pathetic social discrimination encountered by victims of sexual harassment," he added.
Moreover, a majority of the public prosecutors appointed to fight police cases are appointed on a contractual basis, thus resulting in "a noticeable decline in their quality".
Sawant pointed out that as per the recent National Crime Records Bureau data, while the number of cases of crimes against women have seen a sharp increase over the years, there is an abysmally low rate of conviction.
Another disheartening fact that was highlighted is that after the recent amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code, it is not possible to arrest legislators, municipal councilors or government officials without prior sanction from the government.
"Little wonder then, that the alleged rapists in the cases like Kathua and Unnao continue to enjoy political patronage and enjoy benefits of deep-rooted patriarchal hegemony," said Sawant, adding that this amendment must be struck off, or at least should not be applicable when it concerns crimes against women.
Reflecting police sentiments, the AAP said that there is a need for a District Attorney system, as prevalent in the US, whose office can supervise all police investigations in a district, while only Special Public Prosecutors must handle all rape cases to ensure conviction.
Sawant said that now, AAP will follow up with 10-member teams which will be appointed to coordinate with each police station in Maharashtra, monitor implementation of its demands and convey public grievances for redressal to the concerned officials.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)