An initiative unveiled by the Pune Police two years ago to ensure the safety of women working night shifts at call centres and software companies has now been rolled out across the state. Under the project, 10 police personnel at each police station will be appointed Buddy Cops to 100-150 working women each.
Maharashtra DGP Subodh Kumar Jaiswal issued orders last month directing all police commissionerates and districts in the state to standardise the operation of eight initiatives aimed at citizen awareness and the safety of women and senior citizens. These are part of 67 community policing programmes active in different parts of the state aimed at perse target groups.
The Buddy Cop project was started by then Pune Police Commissioner Rashmi Shukla in mid-2017 following the murders of Antara Das and Rasila Raju OP within a month between December 2016 and January 2017. Jaiswal sees the project as being vital to prevent such incidents in future and to provide a sense of security to working women .
The project will be made operational at police stations which have industries and IT hubs in their jurisdictions. Under the project, personnel ranking between Constable and Assistant Sub Inspector will be made available round-the-clock to respond to emergencies reported by women working in offices and banks and living in hostels. They are also required to create a WhatsApp group comprising 100-150 women, the senior inspector of the police station and local beat constable.
While women will be able to report emergencies and seek assistance through text messages and phone calls, the Buddy Cops will be required to attend to emergency situations personally.
In Pune, the project was initially rolled out in Hinjewadi, Yerawada, Kharadi and Hadapsar, which have a large number of private companies employing women. Shukla fast-tracked the project after 23-year-old Capgemini employee Antara Das was stabbed to death on December 23, 2016, by an unidentified person while walking near her office in Talawade.
A fellow software engineer was arrested for her murder. A month later, on January 29, 2017, a security guard allegedly stabbed and killed 24-year-old software engineer Rasila Raju OP inside the Infosys campus in Hinjewadi, allegedly after she asked him not to stare at her.