Pune police commissioner Retesh Kumaar on Wednesday ordered the activation of all 140 police chowkis in the city wherein the police station in-charge of the respective chowkis would visit them during the day and be there for an hour to monitor the progress and complaints at those chowkis. Kumaar also asked policemen to be present 24×7 at these chowkis, set up mainly for the purpose of listening to the citizens’ grievances and deterring anti-social elements. The orders came in the wake of an audacious attack on a young woman by her friend at Sadashiv Peth wherein locals managed to catch the assailant and drag him to the Peru Gate police chowki only to find an unmanned chowki that remained as such for the next one hour.
“All chowkis will be activated 24×7 in two shifts and in future, they will be under CCTV surveillance and will be monitored by senior officers posted at the police Commissionerate. We are trying to return to the way these chowkis were during earlier times. Over a period of time and due to the Covid-19 outbreak, they have been affected. Also, there has been manpower shortage and we are in the process of deploying adequate manpower at the chowkis,” Kumaar said.
The blatant attack on the woman at Sadashiv Peth and the subsequent absence of policemen on duty at the Peru Gate police chowki has swung the spotlight on absenteeism at these chowkis when the presence of policemen is most needed.
Over the past few months, citizens have been complaining about chowkis being under lock-and-key even as the police cite lack of police amaldars (chowki officers) and manpower for activating them. In January this year, the Hindustan Times had reported about Sukhsagar Nagar chowki at Bibwewadi being non-functional owing to inadequate staff despite its inauguration in August last year.
Citizens’ groups from various parts of the city have been requesting the police to set up chowkis for patrolling the area and for the safety of citizens. In response, the police even activated some new chowkis considering that citizens find it convenient to lodge complaints at nearby chowkis. However, a large number of chowkis are found locked at night.
According to the police, at least two police personnel are required per chowki however finding adequate staff to man the chowkis is an uphill task. At the same time, keeping the chowkis open with only one policeman is risky which is why in such cases the police urge citizens to directly approach the police station for help. The city Commissionerate has 32 police stations with a total 140 police chowkis under their jurisdiction. Most of these chowkis have been shut down while those that are operational have two police constables or sometimes just one policeman. In a scenario where a chowki is manned by a single policeman, he has to lock up the chowki and rush to the crime scene upon receiving any complaint. But if the chowki is teeming with citizens, the single policeman cannot simply lock up and visit the crime scene.