Speaking with TNM, Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant has assured that he will look into the matter.

Goons outside victim's house
news Crime Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - 08:36

Messages from a 24-year-old Bengaluru woman seeking help from the police have been doing the rounds on social media since Saturday. Speaking with TNM, the woman, Farheeen Ayesha, alleged insensitivity and inaction on part of the Banaswadi Police Station staff. Farheen, who is interning as a counsellor after her MSc in Psychology, alleged that though she and her mother expressed fear of immediate physical harm, the police did not give them adequate protection.

Bengaluru City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant assured that the matter will be looked into, when TNM reached out for a comment. The Deputy Commissioner of Police East Sharanappa told TNM that a first information report (FIR) has been registered and he will ensure that the matter is dealt with professionally. Banaswadi Police Inspector too said that they are in the process of identifying the accused.

Farheen said the incidents which took place on Friday night and early Saturday morning are a fallout of an ongoing divorce case between her parents. She alleged that at the behest of her father, around 15 men threatened to harm her and her mother as they were moving into a Banaswadi property legally owned by her mother.

“There were around 15-20 goons along with my father who were trying to break into our property. We called the police in panic and the police came promptly but asked us to go to the police station to file a complaint. So at 9 pm, my mother left for the police station and I was left to deal with 15 of these men who were constantly threatening me,” Farheen told TNM.

“I genuinely felt unsafe. So I repeatedly called the police and pleaded with them to drive the men out as they had seen the property papers,” she added.

But she said despite attending to her calls, the police officials did not do much. She alleged that her uncle and aunt had to drive down to help her out.

“Once the first set of guys left, another set of nine guys came and started intimidating us saying that this was their brother’s house. So I had to again call the police and they took a long time to respond,” she said. She went on to allege that even this time, the police personnel who came to her house did not ask the men to disperse.

“Meanwhile, my mother who was in the police station since 9 pm was told she’d get a complaint copy only in the morning. Finally she could get a draft of the FIR at 3 am,” Farheen added.

Farheen said their ordeal did not end there. Even for the best part of Saturday, they had to take turns to talk to the police for follow-up. “The police officials kept insisting that a father wouldn't do any harm to his daughter or anyone in the family. But they did not listen when we mentioned that the divorce was based on physical violence,” she continued.

Farheen further said that from the photos and videos she took, her family and friends could identify two of those men— Tariq and Sardar—-who are habitual criminals.

Well known women’s rights activist chief Brinda Adige, who was apprised of the situation, said, “The problem is that the police do not consider domestic violence as an immediate concern due to the legal technicalities. But they easily understand the threat to life. So why was the patrol vehicle not sent immediately?”

She said the same police officials would respond if there was a murder or suicide as a result of domestic violence.

“First and foremost, the biggest challenge is that our departments work in silos. If you look at the Women’s Helpline that is run under the Women and Child Welfare Department, it has no convergence with the police. But even then the call centre often does not have an operator,” she added. Farheen alleged that she did try the helpline, but no one responded.

Brinda said this incident came to light as Farheeen has access to social media and the matter got prominence. “But there are hundreds of these cases happening everyday, they don’t come out as people may not have access to social media or they may not be open about sharing this,” Brinda said.

She suggested that often the police higher-ups get defensive and recommend the Suraksha app but that only works for those with an active internet connection and an Android phone. “So what we need is a decentralised helpline approach where individuals/NGOs and local police stations can run such a helpline for a smaller area, maybe for respective police station limits or police zone limits,” she added.

Brinda advocated that the government actively engage NGOs and others as there are too many vacancies in the police department and the existing staff is already overburdened.

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