Night-life plans for city: Ex-top cops say study, prep required

Mumbai: The state's tourism and environment minister Aadiya Thackeray's plans for a vibrant night life in the city by keeping eateries, theatres and restaurants open 24X7 in non-residential areas and gated communities like malls and multiplexes, will become reality, on a pilot basis, from January 27. That the night life concept will boost domestic, as well as foreign tourism in the city, has been Aaditya Thackeray's stated position for years now. But before the plan is implemented, a proper study must be carried out and there must be preparedness to face the possibility of an increase in the crime rate, which will be an additional burden for police, according to two former top officers.

Speaking on this issue, former police commissioner MN Singh said that such a proposal had been mooted by the then home minister Chhagan Bhujbal, during Singh's tenure. Bhujbal had also wanted to introduce night shopping, among others. Singh feels that for providing security at these places all night long, the department needs extra strength because the existing personnel is inadequate.

"I had opposed Bhujbal's idea. I demanded extra forces for implementing such an idea. I told him I could not guarantee safety and security on the streets, especially if women were around and incidents of molestation and robbery took place. That would have posed a big problem," he recollected.

"As it is, the available manpower is insufficient and police will be burdened, as they will have to provide security not just to the public but also businesses," Singh said. He hoped that enough thought had been given to this issue before its approval. "Mumbai is a safe city compared to most others in the country, but one cannot take things for granted. Youth, especially girls and women will now want to go out, shop, attend musical and other social events. This will call for sufficient police protection, which will be difficult to provide with the existing manpower," felt Singh.

"If we are trying to copy the west and Dubai et all, first, there must be enough police personnel and their deployment must be planned," Singh emphasised.

“I hope that police machinery has been given extra teeth and it is geared for this experiment,” he said.

A member of the Maharashtra Police Complaints Authority and retired additional director general of police, P K Jain expresses similar sentiments. "Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city. While an initiative like this is always welcome, it is going to throw up many challenges for police. Traffic on the roads will increase, public movement of people will increase and it will generate different crimes. There could be an increase in chainsnatching, robberies, body offences, drunk driving and so on. Currently, police have a lean period, from midnight until 8am. With the implementation of this night life concept, the lean period will vanish. Accordingly, more manpower will be required on the roads. For now, it will be done on a pilot basis but when it is rolled out in the entire city, police force too has to be increased accordingly. Already, police is hardpressed for manpower, so this will be extremely strenuous for them, with the existing resources,” said Jain.

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