The panel discussion, featuring Mumbai Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria and Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad chief Himanshu Roy,at the premier of the film, 'Daughters of Mother India' in Mumbai.
Four hundred cops from the Mumbai Police along with two of its most flamboyant officers, Police Commissioner Rakesh Maria and ATS Chief Himanshu Roy, came together at the premiere of 'Daughters of Mother India' a film that chronicles that aftermath of the horrific rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical intern on December 16, 2012.
The screening was followed by a panel discussion with the two officers, the film's director Vibha Bakshi and actor Poorna Jagannathan. The film is a part of the Vogue Empower initiative. Speaking to NDTV, Priya Tanna, editor of Vogue India said, "The journey has taken us to many different places and these are important pit stops in the life of Vogue Empower."
Speaking on the incident of a recent case in Delhi where a young executive was raped by an Uber cab driver, Rakesh Maria said, "I have ordered a background check of all cabbies in the city. Some services providers did not even have details of the drivers. We should be able to complete the exercise by April. If I and the Mumbai Police say we have verified a driver, we are vouching for him. We were the first force to order a background check of all taxi drivers."
Lamenting the fact that criminals get bail from courts and repeat crimes, ATS Chief Himanshu Roy said, "When it comes to balancing rights of victims and the accused, it has been balanced in the favour of the accused. Society has to take a call on releasing accused on bail."
Roy pointed out that the gunman who took people hostage in Sydney had forty cases against him. He also mentioned a Supreme Court judgement which says bail is a matter of right adding that offenders often get out on bail.
Speaking on safety of women in Mumbai, Rakesh Maria said, "Please do not judge Mumbai going by the number of cases reported these days. All these years we were pushing things under the carpet and cases were not being reported. Now we are sensitizing the force and encouraging people to come out and report cases."
Himanshu Roy added, "We have over 60 years of policing between us and yet it is heart-wrenching to deal with the cases that come before us. Ninety percent of cases take place within the circle of trust. The police cannot penetrate every home." Appealing to his fellow policemen Roy said, "We should be sensitive and have a zero tolerance for crimes against women. Society has high expectations from us and let's not fail them."
The horrific attack on a school in Peshawar also came up during the discussion, Rakesh Maria said, "There is no sanctity these days. Earlier women and children were never targeted. Today things have changed and women's security and sexual offences are priority number one. When we joined the force the priority was dacoity. Then it moved to the underworld and organized crime. Today terror and women's security are on top of the list."
While Rakesh Maria listed all the steps the Mumbai Police has taken under his leadership, Poorna Jagannathan pointed out things have begun to change. She said, "We are in a different space from where we were on December 15, 2012. We have begun to talk about issues now."
Poorna also pointed out that often cases are reported from the most unexpected quarters and affluent homes. "Sometimes crimes are committed by men who have a wall full of trophies," she said.
While both the cops said the police are doing everything they can, Rakesh Maria made an appeal to the media saying, "Don't sensationlise cases. Please have faith in us. We will not let you down."