Police stations from only 9 out of 24 wards of Mumbai have been providing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) licence department protection to remove illegal banners that deface the city si
Police stations from only 9 out of 24 wards of Mumbai have been providing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) licence department protection to remove illegal banners that deface the city since January this year. This, in spite of high court directives to the commissioner of police in December last year to appoint two policemen per ward exclusively for this purpose. Following these directives, municipal commissioner Ajoy Mehta had written to the commissioner of police, requesting the department’s co-operation, and the police department had obliged.
However, three incidents have happened this year where BMC officials sustained grievous injuries after local political party workers beat them up during drives to pull down illegal hoardings. The BMC has now decided to approach the high court with a list of wards where police do not accompany the civic officials on duty, in the hope that this would crack a whip on the department.
As per data from the licence department, police stations only from wards A, H(east), L, M (east), M (west), N, R (central), R (north), and S have been providing protection, of which police in the A and H(east) wards are armed.
An official from the license department said, “We understand that the police department is short staffed, but the licence department cannot continue to take rapid action against illegal banners if our officials are scared for their physical safety.” Since the approaching municipal corporation elections of 2017, political banners in the city have increased drastically, the official said. To match this scale, the BMC has also geared up in taking action. In three months between January and March, the BMC pulled down 4,249 illegal banners, in comparison to 405 that were taken down during the same time last year. Out of the 4,249 banners pulled down this year, 3,412 (including flags) belonged to political parties.