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Under-staffed women police stations can't help complainants

India on 08 August 2013
Location : Bangalore, India | Source : New Indian Express. Image Source: New Indian Express

Anita (name changed) recently walked into the all-women Halasuru Gate police station around 2.30 pm, upset. She had come to the same police station 15 days ago, asking the police to register a complaint against her husband for harassing her.

The women police personnel gave her a hearing, called her husband, counselled both of them and sent her back. But that did not solve Anita’s problem and she landed at the station again with her complaint.

Cases like Anita’s are dime a dozen in the city. Reeling under severe resource crunch, the women’s police stations (WPS) at Thyagaraja Nagar and Halasuru Gate have mostly turned into mere counselling centres.

With nearly 46 per cent of the posts lying vacant, the women personnel at these stations dabble with multiple roles working between 8 am and 8 pm.

“We don’t have a choice, as one person has to do the work that requires four people,” a staffer said.

For example, Assistant Sub-Inspector S T Shamala Devi of the Halasuru Gate station is a cop-cumcounsellor.

She also has to occasionally handle computer work and hear out complainants for 3-4 hours a day.

“We have 24 sanctioned posts for women police constables, but only 18 are filled. Five of the six posts of head constable are vacant. We don’t have enough computer operators. And,  we also get deployed on special duty every now and then,” she said.

An average of 10 complainants walk into each of these stations every day, of whom nine are usually women.

“We try our best to counsel the complainants and the other parties involved to reach a compromise and try to avoid registering complaints as it is a time-consuming process,” said a woman cop at Basavanagudi police station.

The Halasuru Gate women’s station, set up in 1994, was the first of its kind in Karnataka. The Basavanagudi and Thyagarajanagar women’s police stations came up almost a decade later. When Express visited these stations, the situation was chaotic. There was a horde of women with complaints under IPC Section 498A (cruelty perpetrated on a woman by her husband or his relative). Occasional complaints are under Section 304A for dowry harassment.

Basavangudi women’s police station has no inspector to head it though its jurisdiction extends across the 45 general police stations under the south, south-east and west divisions. Sub-inspector P V Renuka is managing the station that has a staff strength of 15 against the sanctioned 33 posts. Only 31 criminal cases have been booked since January. The sole male Assistant SI of the station is a month away from retirement.

The Halasuru Gate women’s police station, which receives referrals from a wide geographical area, covers 60-odd stations. 

Zarina Begum, a social worker, has been running around K R Puram police station for months regarding a dowry harassment case. “When we go to register a complaint in a regular police station, they refuse to handle these type of cases and ask us to visit the women’s police station,” she said.

Police Commissioner Raghavendra H Auradkar admitted that vacancies in the women’s police stations is a long-standing issue. These stations are necessary as they are the only ones equipped with to deal with dowry harassment and domestic cruelty, he said, but felt the burden should be reduced by allowing other stations to handle such cases.

“Many women complainants hesitate to go to these stations. The vacancies need to be filled, but we are looking at over 2,500 vacancies Recruitments are frozen now because of the vacancies in the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. We will address it after that,” he told Express. 

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