Where were the beat marshals and the police patrol vehicles on the day when assailants pumped a volley of bullets at MiD DAY’s Crime and Investigation Editor Jyotirmoy Dey?

That is the question being asked by stunned residents of Powai who witnessed the shooting. Under the jurisdiction of the Powai police, as of any other, there are supposed to be four beat marshals and five police patrol vehicles on the move in the locality to keep crime in check. But locals say that, to their knowledge, neither any marshal nor a mobile vehicle was sighted at or near the spot where the incident happened. Furthermore, the residents of the area revealed to MiD DAY that it was bystanders and private security guards deployed at the residential complex, who rushed the fatally wounded Dey to Powai polyclinic first. Later two beat marshals reached the clinic before Dey was shifted to Hiranandani hospital.

The mobile vehicles arrived even later. Cops maintain that the vehicles and policemen were in the neighbouring areas. A senior police officer admitted that private security guards along with some onlookers took Dey to the polyclinic. The officer added, “The beat marshals and mobile vans were on patrol duty in the adjoining areas, and as per our records, the patrol vehicles reached the spot within five minutes of receiving the message.  As per the SOP (standard operating process), the minimum time required for mobilising a patrol vehicle nearest to the scene of incident is seven minutes and in this case the police vehicles reached in five minutes.”

Locals doubtful

Although the police vehicles did reach a few minutes after the control room flashed the message, locals said that they doubt if the patrolling automobiles were even around.  For, they reason, had the police been roaming the area, their mere presence in the locality would have deterred the assailants and scared them off. Said a resident who did not want to be named, “Had a single policeman in uniform been present around the area where Dey was shot, nobody would have dared open fire.” Drawing attention to another discrepancy, another local said that despite the spate of crime in the region and subsequent promises by the police to reinforce their presence, nothing has been done.

A resident from the locality who did not wish to be identified, said, “Instances of petty offences in and around Powai police station are frequent and known.  The police had said that they would conduct foot patrolling and ensure more police presence on the street, what with cases of robbery, housebreaking and chain-snatching shooting up. But at the ground level, more needs to be done.”

[quote]A senior IPS officer rubbished the claims and said, “Every police station has four beat marshals and five patrolling vehicles. The jurisdiction of each police station is vast and it is practically impossible to be present at the particular location when a crime is occurring.”[/quote]

Newly in-charge

[box type=”info”]What is also noteworthy is the fact that some top officials have recently assumed control of the Powai area and, as such, do not have extensive intelligence or informer networks that could have aided in preventing the crime. Four senior officers in the Western Region have either taken charge lately or have been holding their offices only for the last few months. Among them, Additional Commissioner of Police (West Region) Vishwas Nangre Patil and Deputy Commissioner of Police (Zone X) Dr Suhas Warke have taken charge as recently as last week. Assistant Commissioner of Police Sherkane and Senior Inspector (Powai) Shivaji Kolekar came in a few months ago and are still in the process of understanding the crime scenario in the locality and forming their own local network of informers.[/box]