THANE: The daylight murder of 20-year-old Prachi Zade by a crazed former boyfriend in Thane has left citizens stunned and raised questions about the safety of women. On Saturday, 23-year-old Akash Pawar stabbed and killed Zade, a college student, who he had been dating till a couple of months ago.

Zade had severed relations with him but Pawar had continued to harass her and her family had even approached police for help on June 11 citing a physical assault on her by the man. Pawar was then booked for a non-cognisable offence (in which no charges are invoked) and he was let off with a warning—no FIR was filed despite the constant mental stress and harm that he had caused her.

Zade’s father now blames Thane police for their casual handling of the case saying the fact that Pawar was stalking and assaulting her was not taken into account. If anything, the incident serves to underscore the fact that the Mumbai region records a high incidence of crimes against women and requires proactive policing in such matters. The latest available figures of the state’s criminal investigation department (CID) indicate that Mumbai, Thane and Navi Mumbai have had the highest rates of passion crimes.

According to state CID figures, 265 women were killed in the state by spurned men in 2016 alone and the highest number were reported in Mumbai (10), followed by Thane (8) and Navi Mumbai (5). In 2015, the count was 277 and in 2014, it was 327. Recent cases that made news include 21-year-old collegian, Nikhil Bankar, stabbing his classmate on the staircase of Chetna College with a kitchen knife and then killing himself after their relationship went sour. In this case too, the girl and her mother had complained to college authorities and even lodged a police complaint about Bankar harassing and stalking her.

In 2015, a 24-year-old man, Dipesh Dodhale had murdered his former girlfriend on the streets of Thane when he learnt that she had married another man. In such instances, police is not known to treat all complaints with the seriousness they deserve, showing an inclination for burking. “Often in harassment cases, police call the accused and warn them without lodging an FIR. In many cases, the woman’s family also shy away from registering a complaint and a non-cognisable offence is recorded,” says advocate Vivek Khemka. He says he always advises clients to insist that police lodge an official complaint. However, prosecution of crimes against women is given high priority, says a prosecutor in Bombay high court who did not wish to be named. In recent years, he said there has been more attention paid to such cases, which has resulted in convictions.
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