NCW concerned over safety of women

Mumbai: Taking a serious note of the brutal murder of a 25-year-old legal professional at her Central Mumbai apartment on August 9, the National Commission for Women (NCW) member Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar has asked Maharashtra Home Minister R R Patil to initiate steps to ensure safety of women.

"The Maharashtra government has already taken a number of steps to improve the safety of women in the state. However, we feel that lot more needs to be done to ensure greater safety of women," Prabhavalkar said in the letter.

"We have positively noted the fact that the Mumbai crime branch arrested the accused within 24 hours of the commissioning of the heinous crime. The decision to opt for a trial of the accused in a fast track court is also a welcome move," the letter stated.

The victim Pallavi, daughter of IAS officer Atanu Purkayastha, a joint secretary in the Agriculture Ministry, was found lying in a pool of blood in her 16th floor apartment at the upscale `Himalayan Heights` in Wadala by her live-in partner Avik Sengupta on August 9.

She was allegedly stabbed to death by the private security guard of the apartment block, Sajjad Ahmed Mughal, who has since been arrested.

According to the police, Mughal killed Pallavi for refusing to give in to his advances.

In her letter, Prabhavalkar also suggested various measures including background check on the guards provided by private security agencies.

"Security guards agencies are governed by specific laws but many lapses have been found in the functioning of the agencies. All cooperative housing societies should be asked to do security audit of their premises in consultation with the local police," the letter said.

"The societies should install CCTV cameras, intercoms and adequate number of able guards. Guards should be employed with proper verification of their background," Prabhavalkar said in her letter.

She also asked for active participation from local police and housing societies. "The police should advise housing societies to ask all their members to take extra precautions like installation of double safety doors. Local police stations should take quarterly meetings with office-bearers of societies in order to redress their grievances with regard to safety and security issues," the letter said.

"At present most security guards are not paid adequately. The labour department should be directed to ensure that these guards are paid properly and in time," it added.