Mahila thana: An asset or mere tokenism?

Women personnel seen outside the mahila thana in Sector 39 in Noida, the only dedicated police station for the 7.57 lakh women in the district.  

The only dedicated police station for women in the district, which is supposed to cater to a female population of 7.57 lakh, is suffering from neglect. This, at a time, when heinous crimes against women across Uttar Pradesh are grabbing headlines, while questions are being asked about political will and the resolve of the police to clamp down on the same.

A leaky roof, no clean drinking water and no PCR van are some of the features of Noida’s sole women’s police station, located in a Sector 39 building that housed a mortuary till 2009.

It’s been around six years since the  mahila thana was set up to make women more comfortable while reporting crimes, but the station has become a token rather than an asset for the Noida Police.

When  The Hindu visited it recently, the station’s sole vehicle was lying in disrepair, forcing the SHO to use her personal car for official work. The car, which according to the personnel at the station runs about 20 days in a year, was given to the station after eight months with no vehicle.

A newly acquired water cooler was lying unused as the wrong kind had been procured and could not be set up with the station’s water pipes. The 27 personnel at the station, all but two being women, have to buy bottled water. 

Even basic furniture like desks, chairs and filing cabinets are still inadequate for the staff and were only allotted last year after requesting the Noida Authority, a police personnel added.

Illustrating the step-motherly treatment given to the thana, a constable pointed out that the nearby Sector 39 police station had all the facilities.

“They even have a welcome desk and air-conditioned rooms for the officers,” said the constable.

Another cop said the current location of the thana was supposed to be temporary. “On paper, land has been allotted for a mahila thana, but the phase-III police station has come up there,” alleged the policewoman.

Despite all their problems, the women who work at the station have a steady stream of complainants every day. Though they don’t have a vehicle for patrolling, three women are posted at the station all night to receive walk-in complaints and emergencies.

Inspector Lakshmi Chauhan, the station officer, said most of the cases are related to domestic violence and dowry.

“The majority of complaints are under Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code,” said Ms. Chauhan, referring to acts of cruelty by a husband or his relative on a woman.

She added that many of those complaints turn out to be false. Last year, the station registered 128 cases and this year so far they have registered 92, with one being of rape.  

“The most common complaint we get from women is that their husbands ignore them or spend too much time with their mother-in-law. We cannot file FIRs in such cases, but we do hold mediation sessions to solve their problems,” said the inspector, a Lucknow native.

But the women all agreed that not enough is being done to curb crimes against women in the State and the government’s concern for complainants was superficial as law and order facilities had not been strengthened.

“All  mahila thanas in U.P. are  bakwaas. Since women cops are neglected, what is the point of talking about women’s security,” asked a police officer.

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2021 5:11:34 AM |

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