After days of denial, local police from the Bandra police station have finally admitted that the barricades outside Bollywood biggie Shah Rukh Khan’s house was their handiwork.
On Friday, MiD DAY had reported how the police had barricaded the pedestrians’ route to the Mount Mary Basilica on Cement Road that passed by SRK’s home — just for his convenience (‘Cops barricade road to Bandra Fair so that SRK is not disturbed’).
Ever since local citizens’ groups had taken up the matter, the local police had allegedly been denying that they had constructed the barricades, attributing the move to traffic police.
However, Rajendra Chavan, senior inspector for the Bandra traffic department denied any involvement, saying, “We construct barricades to manage vehicular movement, but not on roads meant for pedestrians. Cement Road is a pedestrian road with steps on it. We haven’t constructed any barricades on it.”
Finally, Senior PI of Bandra police station Abhay Shastri admitted yesterday, “We are the ones who constructed barricades on Cement Road. The step was taken because the road’s width is such that it could lead to a stampede-like situation during the fair. I have not been ordered to remove the barricades by my senior officers.”
Despite DCP IX Pratap Dighavkar’s assurances that the barricades would be removed, they were still present at the time of going to press. Meanwhile, the Bandra fair started yesterday, and pilgrims had to take a circuitous route to Mount Mary’s church, being denied access to Cement Road by police personnel stationed there. Dighavkar had earlier said, “We will open the barricades and make the road a one-way stretch for pedestrian movement.”
Residents claimed that the additional CP (West Region) Vishwas Nangre-Patil had assured them that he would personally visit the road and take a decision, but didn’t make good on his promise. One of the members of the protesting groups, John Fernandes, said, “On Thursday, Nangre-Patil had taken our contact details and assured us he would personally inspect the area the next day. We have so far not heard from him. It is Sunday and the fair has already begun.”
Another resident and activist Agnelo Fernandes said, “The entire police department is being uncooperative.”