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India 2017 Crime & Safety Report: Mumbai

South Central Asia > India; South Central Asia > India > Mumbai

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Consulate Mumbai does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MUMBAI AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC’s India-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Although a city with an estimated population of more than 25 million people, Mumbai remains relatively safe for expatriates. Being involved in traffic accident remains more probable than being a victim of a crime, provided good personal security is practiced. Mumbai Police, as well as all of the Indian Police Service (IPS), are short staffed, lack training, and are overworked, but they seem to do a reasonable job in securing the city.

Crime Threats

Petty crime or crimes of opportunity have affected expatriates with reports of stolen bags, passports, and other valuables. Most of these crimes occur in a non-confrontational/non-violent manner. Areas frequented by foreigners are less vulnerable due to a generally adequate police presence.

Violent crimes do occur in Mumbai but are generally isolated in more high-density areas (slums, crowded apartment blocks).

Residential theft is a common occurrence among the Indian population, normally occurring when the residence is vacant; however, violence resulting in serious injury or death is relatively rare. Another common type of residential theft can involve household staff either stealing directly from their employer or allowing acquaintances into the residence while the employer is away.

There have been reports that Western companies, although not exclusively, are the subject of pressure from political organizations to hire certain workers or vendors, especially in rural areas. There are also the more rare cases of extortion threats by organized crime elements.

Cybersecurity Issues

The complexity and capability of organizations conducting white-collar financial scams and cyber-crime continues to expand. West African/Nigerian fraud rings are also active in Mumbai and Goa. While these groups generally target lower income Indian citizens and tourists, it is not uncommon for the groups to use the names of actual U.S. diplomats, businesses, or businessmen in their fraudulent materials.

Other Areas of Concern

Caution should be taken when in high poverty areas of the city. Travelers should avoid the Red Light district of Kamathipura, as local press reports indicate an extraordinary high HIV rate among local sex workers.

Travelers should exercise caution around large public celebrations like New Year's celebrations in Mumbai. In the last few years, female U.S. citizens have been attacked by local youths at these celebrations.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Roads are in moderate condition, but the city's infrastructure is not keeping pace with its rapid growth. There is extreme traffic congestion throughout Mumbai while there is also an increasing number of high-speed traffic accidents and fatalities, particularly on the few highways. Officials report that approximately 72,000 accidents occur every year, resulting in an average of 14,000 deaths. Mumbai continues to see an increase in both serious and minor auto accidents compared to previous years. Local media report that an Indian dies every three minutes in a road accident in India.

Outside major cities, main roads and arteries are often poorly controlled, maintained, and congested. Even major roads frequently have only two lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. On the few divided highways, one can expect to meet local transportation traveling in the wrong direction, often without lights. Heavy traffic is normal and includes (but is not limited to) overloaded trucks, buses, scooters, bicycles, pedestrians, bullock/camel carts, horse/elephant riders en route to weddings, and free-roaming livestock.

Traffic moves on the left. It is important to be alert while crossing streets and intersections, especially after dark, as traffic is coming from the "wrong" direction (from the right). Use seatbelts when available and ask drivers to maintain a safe speed. At intersections, there are frequently throngs of indigent individuals and street hawkers. Travelers should be mindful to keep windows rolled up and doors locked.   

The safest driving policy for expatriates is to drive defensively and to not assume that one can predict how other drivers will respond to a traffic situation. “Might make right;” for example, buses/trucks often run red lights and merge directly into traffic at yield points and traffic circles. Cars, auto-rickshaws, bicycles, and pedestrians behave only slightly more cautiously. Frequent use of the horn or flashing lights to announce one's presence is customary. In general, most areas lack basic traffic law enforcement. Many drivers routinely ignore traffic rules without regard to safety. Expatriates must have either a valid Indian driver’s license or a valid international driver’s license. Because of difficult road and traffic conditions, many expatriates choose to hire a driver. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”

If a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, crowds can form quickly, oftentimes surrounding the vehicles and individuals involved. Occupants could be attacked, posing significant risk of injury/death to the vehicle's occupants or incineration of the vehicle. If it appears to be unsafe for individuals to remain at the scene, go directly to the nearest police station.

Protestors often use road blockage as a means of publicizing their grievances, causing severe inconvenience to travelers. Visitors should monitor local news reports for any reports of road disturbances.

Public Transportation Conditions

All travelers should recognize the risks inherent in using mass transit (buses, trains), particularly after dark and especially if not in the company of known, trusted companions. Travelers are cautioned to avoid walking in isolated areas alone at any time. Traveling alone in hired taxis and rickshaws is generally safe even with increasing numbers making use of application-based transportation providers (Uber, Ola).

Travel by road is dangerous, and travelling at night is particularly hazardous. Buses, patronized by hundreds of millions of Indians, serve almost every city in India. However, these buses are usually driven without much consideration for the rules of the road. Accidents are quite common.

Trains, while statistically safer than buses, also suffer accidents with alarming regularity. Mumbai’s Suburban Railway carries seven million passengers a day but not without risk, as train accidents occur with some frequency. Trains are extremely overcrowded throughout the day, and exiting/entering can be dangerous and even deadly. On average, there are 3,000 deaths related to the train system per year, though this includes people riding on the outside or top of the train and some pedestrians. Petty theft is common. Reports of harassment of women persist. Women are advised to travel in the female-only compartment, which will offer a measure of security. However, there have been reports of female gangs targeting women in these cabins.

Aviation/Airport Conditions

Airlines are one of the safest modes of transportation. Most airports have a robust police presence, extensive CCTV coverage, and restrictions limiting airport access to only employees and travelers. An adequate number of police officers are in proper uniform outside the Arrival Hall and parking area. Plain clothed police officers also keep watch on suspicious activity.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MUMBAI AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

Apart from ongoing Maoist violence in the Chhattisgarh region, there have been no major attacks on par with the much-publicized 2008 Mumbai attacks. Members of the international terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba (LeT) targeted Mumbai, conducting a combined arms suicide operation that lasted three days, killing at least 173 people and wounding at least 308. The attackers stormed and bombed hotels, a Jewish center, a train station, a cafe, and a hospital during the lengthy attack.

Since then, a number of smaller, random attacks have occurred. U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in the vicinity of government installations, visiting tourist sites, or attending public events. People should be alert for unattended bags or packages in these areas.

A disparate number of Maoist extremist groups (Naxals, Naxalites) are active in parts of the Mumbai Consular District. They are particularly active in rural parts of the states of Chhattisgarh, extreme eastern Maharashtra, and in border regions of the adjacent states of Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Orissa. The Naxalites have a long history of conflict with state and national authorities, including frequent attacks on local police, paramilitary forces, and government officials. The Naxalites have not specifically targeted U.S. citizens but have attacked symbolic targets, including Western companies. While Naxalite violence does not normally occur in places frequented by foreigners, there is a risk that visitors could become unintended victims.

The 2016 Global Terrorism Index ranks India as seventh in list of countries most impacted by terrorism. While India’s terrorism score places it fractionally ahead of Somalia, terrorism in India is primarily political, with the vast majority of events taking place in the Jammu and Kashmir regions or tribal areas in central India, with little direct impact in Mumbai. There continue to be reports of ISIS sympathizers/recruits being detained or arrested by police; however, law enforcement agencies provide little information about these investigations. There remain suspicions that some terrorists may be active, including in Mumbai, but this belief has not been substantiated nor does it negatively impact life in the city.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MUMBAI AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest 

Mumbai has a history of large demonstrations. The police handle large demonstrations professionally when they have advance notice and can adequately plan for the event. The city also experiences spontaneous demonstrations and incidents of violence that can disrupt traffic flow and cause damage to property before the police can respond. Police are quick to disrupt such protests. However, this may result in violent clashes between the police and protestors, resulting in injuries and sometimes death. Political groups (Shiv Sena (a far-right, Hindu nationalist, political party)) occasionally resorts to political violence to make a point or protest labor issues. 

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

The monsoon season (June-September) and flooding is of great concern. Inadequate drainage, clogged storm sewers, and expansive city growth exacerbates flooding. The worst flooding happens when a high volume storm coincides with a high tide, as there is no outlet for the rain water.

Personal Identity Concerns

U.S. citizens, particularly women, are cautioned to exercise good personal security, particularly if traveling alone. Western women continue to report incidents of physical harassment by groups of men. While Mumbai is generally safe for all foreign visitors and has a large expatriate community, according to the latest figures by Indian authorities, reports of rape continue to increase throughout India. The vast majority of incidents appear to be confined to the Indian population. Sexual attacks have taken place against female visitors in tourist areas, and even members of the diplomatic community have reported instances of sexual assault and harassment. These events highlight that foreign women are not a “protected group” or immune from being potential victims and should exercise vigilance.

Drug-related Crimes

Indian law prescribes severe penalties for drug related crimes.

Police Response

Police response in Mumbai is fair. The Mumbai police do an effective job managing large-scale protests and are responsive to security requests.

Travelers should refrain from taking pictures of government facilities, train stations, airports, power plants, or other key sites receiving protection from the government of India. For more information, please review OSAC’s Report “Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.”

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

If you have been detained by the police, please contact the Consulate's American Citizens Services Unit at +91 (22) 2672-4000 extension 4374 or 4398 workdays or via email. After hours and on holidays and weekends, dial +91 (22) 2672-4000 and ask for the Duty Officer.

Crime Victim Assistance

Individuals needing immediate police assistance should call the Police Helpline at 100. Further information on the Mumbai Police can be found on their website.

Medical Emergencies

Emergency medical services in Mumbai are extremely limited. Emergency medicine/trauma care is still below Western standards, but steps are being made to improve this capability.

Ambulances are poorly equipped, and traffic congestion could prevent speedy transport to a hospital. Trauma victims are often transported by public transportation.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

Mumbai hospitals and ambulance listing can be found on the U.S. Consulate website.

Available Air Ambulance Services

International SOS has a Mumbai office, which can be contacted at +91-22-4068-3000, and a 24-hour Alarm Center which can be contacted at +91-11-4189-8800. More information can be found on the International SOS Asia-Pacific website.

Private air ambulance service in Mumbai is also provided by Indian Aero-Medical Services Private Ltd. Local contact numbers are +91-98-2004-3432, +91-98-2102-1255, or +91-98-2132-7232.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for India.

OSAC Country Council Information

The Mumbai Country Council currently meets four times a year and has approximately 75 members. Please contact OSAC’s South and Central Asia team with any questions or to join. You may also contact the following in order to join or to get more information:  

OSAC Chapter Email at mumbaiosac@state.gov

U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information

Consulate Address and Hours of Operation

C-49, G Block, Bandra Kurla Complex
Bandra East, Mumbai 400 051
Taxi drivers may also know the area for the Trident Hotel or American School of Bombay.

Consulate Contact Numbers

The 24-hour telephone number is +91(22)2672-4000 and the fax number is +91(22)2672-4755. The Consular Section, Political/Economic Section, the Consulate Duty Officer can be reached through the switchboard.
The Regional Security Office at +91(22)2672-4000 ext. 4911
Website: https://in.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/mumbai/

Nearby Posts

Embassy New Delhi: https://in.usembassy.gov/

Consulate Chennai: http://chennai.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Hyderabad: http://hyderabad.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Kolkata: https://in.usembassy.gov/embassy-consulates/kolkata/

Virtual Presence Post Bangalore: http://bangalore.usvpp.gov/

Embassy Guidance

For the latest security information, travelers should enroll in STEP to receive updated security information and regularly monitor travel information available from the U.S. Consulate in Mumbai (Bombay) as well as the Embassy in New Delhi the U.S. Consulates in Chennai (Madras), Hyderabad, and Kolkata (Calcutta).

Additional Resources

India Country Information Sheet