If the sheer number of “unauthorised” chowkies is something the police need to rectify immediately, there’s another matter— a rather sensitive one—-that the force needs to come to terms with: whether to continue with the practice of allowing shrines to be installed in the premises of police stations.

During his meetings with Ganeshotsav mandals in September, Joint Commissioner K L Prasad had expressed concern about the rampant use of religious signs and symbols in police stations that could send the wrong signal to the public. He even asked all police stations to remove such items so as to project a secular image of the police.

But while the religious signs and symbols have been removed from most police stations, there is a considerable number of temples in police stations.

Prasad admitted the issue is sensitive.

“The police stations have complied as far as religious signs such as photographs of deities are concerned,” he said. “But temples in police stations is a different issue. Removing them, some of which are old structures, is a sensitive issue.”
Data obtained through the Right To Information (RTI) Act reveals there are as many as 52 deities that have been enshrined in police stations in Mumbai.

The number is significant considering there are 84 police stations in the city.

Thane has 15 temples inside police stations, while Navi Mumbai has 10. As for the deities, there are 12 temples each of Lord Shiva and Adi Guru Dattatreya in Mumbai police stations followed by 10 temples of Lord Ganpati.

Nine temples are dedicated to Sai Baba, while the Dongri police station houses the shrine of Haji Abdul Rehman Shah Baba.

Mumbai, October 27
N Ganesh