A sense of foreboding — and déjà vu — hangs heavy in the air in Padgha’s Borivli village. Everyone is talking in hushed tones about the village’s most infamous son, alleged SIMI operative and prime accused Saquib Nachan, who was on Tuesday convicted by a special POTA court for his role in the 2002-03 triple blasts in Mumbai.
The Borivli village in Bhiwandi taluka of Thane district is seeing increasing police vigilance since Tuesday
The verdict has brought the spotlight — and the police — back to the village in Bhiwandi taluka of Thane district. The police beat chowky, which is bang in the middle of Borivli, is abuzz with activity. Officials from the special police branch, the local police and the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) of Maharashtra are keeping tabs on every new person or vehicle entering the village, and are scoping the streets for anyone looking remotely suspicious.
S Bhosale, senior inspector, Padgha police station, admits that more police personnel were deployed in the village in the wake of the conviction to maintain law and order. He, too, paid a visit to the village in the morning and the evening on Wednesday to oversee police preparedness.
An ATS officer patrolling the village says this isn’t the squad’s first visit to Borivli. “For over a decade, the ATS has kept a watch on the village and its activities. We are not disturbing or harassing any villager. We are just doing our job.”
The villager’s ‘hero’
The tight vigilance has left the usually sleepy village on the edge. Every new entrant to the village is looked upon as a police official.
Over 1 km from the Bhiwandi-Nashik highway, Borivli is at the crossroads of development. Old single-storey houses fight for survival as new housing structures mushroom with the growing affluence among the largely business community.
The lane leading to Nachan’s house takes one back in time — old houses still dot the dusty street.
The village has a population of around 7,000, 95% of which comprises Konkani Muslims.
Nachan is the sole talking point at present. Villagers are glued to TV channels or have buried their noses in newspapers, taking in every word on the blast convict. Not everyone is convinced by the verdict. While some are scared of speaking up on it, others claim that Nachan is innocent.
“Regardless of the court finding him guilty, we will always support him because of his generosity and charitable work. He helped many poor families perform weddings and offered help in the village’s uplift in several other ways,” says a gushing villager.