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Will the cell to protect activists be revived?

DNMUM159388 | 1/10/2010 | Author : Linah Baliga | WC :291 | Crime & Law

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Established in 2008, the special police unit is defunct at the moment

A demand to revive a special cell in the police force will be made to protect civic, social and environmental activists in the city. This special cell, which is already in existence, is defunct at present.
The firing in Citispace activist and convenor, Nayana Kathpalia's Churchgate flat, on Friday, has created an urgent need to revive the special cell for activists who are feeling threatened after the incident.
The special cell was formed in 2008, after a delegation of NGOs and activists including DM Sukthankar and Gerson daCunha of AGNI, Julio Ribeiro and Dara Gandhy of PCGT, Sailesh Gandhi, Sumaira Abduali and others met former police commissioner Hassan Gaffoor.
"Activists don't need police protection. But there's an absolute need to revive the methodology of investigation by the police. This is the time to make that demand," said Neera Punj, co-convener of Citispace, who was also threatened.
When Kathpalia was asked about the attack, she said, "I have no clue about who attacked me. We've been dealing with only policy-related matters. So there's no question of suspecting anybody. I don't know how the special cell will function. I want to know if this special cell will provide protection to normal citizens and not just activists," said Kathpalia.
"Theoretically, the special cell exists. But it needs to be made functional. Activists handling slum rehabilitation-related issues are always at risk and they are warned beforehand. The police needs to conduct investigations when the threats are made and before the attack happens, and that's where the special cell comes in," said Sumaira Abdulali of Movement against Intimidation, Threat and Revenge against Activists (MITRA).
NGOs and activists will come together on Sunday, to discuss instituting a formal mechanism that can work towards ensuring their safety.

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