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How difficult it is to file an FIR in India?
On March 13th, 2014 around 7:45 pm suddenly we discovered that our cycle (GT-Pulmolar) which we had purchased hardly a month before was not in its place. It was locked and parked along with the cars and two wheelers in the parking of our society premises. It took hardly few minutes for us to realize that the cycle was stolen.

Our society is fairly under CCTV surveillance with cameras covering very well all the entry gates. So next we rushed for the CCTV footages. Within an hour we got the footage that at 5:15 pm same day the cycle was taken away by a person when the security guard was slightly away from one of the society gates.

We had already informed the society administration about it and the next action was to inform the police. People around us were divided on the opinion about Police involvement as some of them felt that police wouldn't be serious about the case as cycle theft is not a very big case. However we decided to go for the FIR at least for two strong reasons.

No. 1: The cycle was a brand new one and little expensive as the cost was Rs20000+/- along with accessories. So honestly the lose was pinching.

No. 2: And very importantly we were shocked for the security issues. If in broad day light (in Mumbai 5:15 pm is really so) a perpetrator can enter the society and steal a cycle then how can we feel safe especially when women and senior citizens stay all alone in the flats throughout the day and children play and ride bicycles without the presence of any elders?

Honestly all the crime reports I had read in various newspapers till that day were quite afresh in my mind. We reached Vashi Police station within few minutes. The concerned officer heard us and noted down our address and phone number on a piece of paper and we were told that police would visit our place next day. We insisted for the FIR but the police told us to wait for two days. Also the officer told us that they were quite occupied with a bigger bigger robbery case that happened just before.

Well next day a constable visited our place and took the CCTV footage and assured us of the action. Next day we again went to Police station and requested the officials to file an FIR. We discovered another person was waiting there for the same reason - cycle theft, in fact his cycle was even costlier than us (Rs 29000/-) and he had lost it on 11th of March 2014.

Finally he was succeeded in filing the FIR. It might be because he had insured his cycle and an FIR was necessary for claiming the insurance. However we were again told to visit some other time as the police was caught with some important case.

In the mean time I enquired about this crime by surfing Internet as well as asking friends and neighbors. I found that though there have been many cases but most of them are not even reported. Even house break-ins are also not so important cases and go without any formal FIR registration. I learnt that registering an FIR means more paperwork and increases the number of cases in the crime records book. So police at first instance avoid registering cases if it is not a very significant one.

As my husband is a working professional in IT industry, so it was not possible for us to visit police station in weekdays though he kept enquiring about the developments through the phone.

Finally on Sunday (March 23, 2014) we again visited Police station and strongly insisted for an FIR.

As expected, again we were served with another excuse on part of the Police that nobody was there to file FIR as the concerned officer was occupied with some other important job. But I was little firm this time and urged that we wouldn?t be leaving Police station that day without the FIR.

May be our firmness worked. Within minutes the concerned officer started filling the FIR.

From the footage the culprit was already identified as a criminal of past record. Even we were said that a hunt was going on for the same but the culprit has changed the address.

We know we may not get our stolen property back. But what we were looking for was a little co-operation from police so that at least people get encouraged to report small crimes.

Few days before I had read about the assertions of newly appointed police commissioner of Navi Mumbai K.L. Prasad in a newspaper. While accentuating his priorities for ensuring law and order in the city he had clearly mentioned that his first priority would be to establish confidence in the minds of the citizens, who apparently hesitate to visit the police stations for lodging complaints.

However it seems he has not yet started the process or may not be in a mood to do so because the way we're discouraged to file a FIR speaks volumes about it. He had also made it clear and warned about non-tolerance of pseudo legal action, if practiced by any of the police officer in the city.

I can say from my experience of first time encounter with police that undoubtedly registration of an FIR is not an easy job in our country. So I feel refusal to register offences or recording a crime immediately is also a crime and pseudo action of police is also an offence and should be treated as such. Am I wrong in saying so?

I also feel citizens must be vigilant and report every bit of crime and offences that they face or witness and ensure that they are formally registered even if they are discouraged, as I feel safety and security is not a job of police administration only, but we are equally responsible for our own security, safety and social well being.

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