With officers deputed to the state's lone women and child protection unit (WCPU) at Panaji taking no pride in their posting or their work and viewing the transfer as a punishment posting, the unit's efficiency has dropped drastically.
When TOI visited the WCPU on Saturday night there were only two police constables on duty.
NGOs that have taken women and child victims to the police station intending to file complaints have been met with little sympathy, no professionalism and no staff willing to file a first information report (FIR).Nishtha Desai, director of NGO, Children's Rights in Goa, told TOI, "When we have taken victims to the WCPU in Panaji they have told us to go to the regular police station concerned." Even calling on the WCPU helpline doesn't yield results and NGOs said callers are merely directed to the concerned police station.
"Officers deputed to WCPU should feel a sense of pride that they have been entrusted with such an important job. Unfortunately, WCPU is viewed as a punishment posting," Desai said.
Speaking to TOI, Sabina Martins, founder member of Bailancho Saad, said, "The WCPU is totally defunct. There is no staff, no infrastructure and powers of the officers have been curtailed. Police posted at WCPU are not registering cases." Bailancho Saad is an organization fighting for the rights of women in the state.
As the unit does not register any cases, it conducts no investigations and hence has no record of convictions. Martins said WCPU, set up to provide justice for the women and children, has turned into a counseling centre, which is otherwise a job for experts to handle.
Martins added that there is no political will in Goa to strengthen the WCPU. Bailancho Saad demanded that the unit be strengthened with additional staff trained to register offences and investigate cases. "Top police officers have instructed the staff of the women and children police station not to register any complaint at the police station," Martins said.
Desai said the WCPU is not functioning in accordance with the standing orders issued at the time of its establishment. The unit was meant to stay open 24×7, to handle cases of offences committed against women and children and to maintain a data base of such cases registered.
"There is a need to ensure that the unit caters to the needs of victims. This requires political will and budgetary allocation on the part of the government," Desai said.
NGOs have also demanded that officers with aptitude and appropriate training and orientation be designated as "juvenile or the child welfare officer" at every police station to handle children. [TOI]