MUMBAI: North Mumbai (Malad-Dahisar) is the most unsafe area for women as per data by the NGO Praja Foundation. As many as 168 rapes were registered here from April 2015 to March this year, up 354% from 2011-12, when 37 cases were reported.
The lowest rape cases in 2015-16 were reported from North East Mumbai (Ghatkopar-Mulund) — 102 — but this too is a marked increase from 2011-12, when 22 cases were registered.
When it comes to risk to life due to crime, South Central Mumbai (Mahim-Anushakti Nagar) is the most unsafe. This area witnessed 43 murders in 2015-16, but that is a fall of 4% from 2011-12, which saw 45 cases. The safest area, in this respect, is South Mumbai, where 17 murders were registered in 2015-16, which is a marked decrease from 40, registered in 2011-12.
Praja's overall data for the city shows a massive rise in serious crimes like rape, which increased by 289% in the five years under consideration. Molestation increased by 287% in the same period. While theft has gone up by 22%, house breaks have increased by 12%. But murder has shown a decline of 15%, and chain-snatching, of which women mostly are the victims, has decreased by 48%. TOI recently carried in-depth analyses of data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), where similar trends were observed. The Praja statistics on crime in Mumbai is not markedly at variance with the NCRB's data, except that while the NCRB considers calendar years for tabulation, Praja takes financial years.
Milind Mhaske, project director, Praja, said, "We have compiled the report based on reported cases of rape. There are various reasons for the rise in rape's numbers, including that because of awareness, more victims are coming forward to lodge police complaints. Anyhow, crime is going up in general, and this is reflected in our data."
Mumbai police's spokesman DCP Ashok Dudhe said, "We have not seen the report, so we cannot comment on it. There has been a rise in crime under some heads, but we will have to check it. Chain-snatching has gone down drastically. Overall, women are safe in Mumbai."
Nitai Mehta, founder and managing trustee, Praja, disagrees, "The state and the police department should take cognisance of the serious issue of crime against children and women, and take steps to ensure their safety," he said.
A senior IPS officer said cases of rape and crime against children keep coming up with sickening regularity, particularly in Mumbai's slums. Police patrolling has increased, but this is insufficient to prevent rape by persons known to would-be victims.
Another officer said that a perennial problem is the low conviction rate for crimes — a fact borne out by the Praja data.
Mumbai's rising crime graph is obviously worrying, especially when it comes to increasing offences against women. This is a city that has a longstanding reputation for being safe for them. That many areas are recording a significant rise in sexual assaults raises questions about strategies adopted by law enforcers.
Some facts may need to be restated in the context of this situation. One of them is the shortage of police personnel, the other is the speed at which cases are heard and the severity of convictions handed out. While it may not be possible for cops to anticipate crime, a visible presence through patrolling and beat policing would help to reassure citizens and instil fear in the mind of the criminal.