The SS is back in news, apparently inspiring the same awe as it did when led by the dictatorial Vasant Dhoble.
A day after a 26-year-old bargirl died during a raid by Mumbai police’s now-famous Social Service branch at Borivli’s Ellora bar, Kasturba Marg police officers investigating the case claim she had low blood pressure. Her body has been sent to JJ Hospital for postmortem to establish the cause of death.
The bar owner, however, claims that SS men manhandled and intimidated his staff and bargirls, which had terrified the woman.
Kasturba Marg police said that Shabnam Shaikh died of a heart attack. Inspector Sudhir Sankhe said that around 8.45 pm on Saturday, two SS officers and four constables -- two of them women -- went to Ellora Bar near the railway station at Borivli (E) for a routine check of permits and licences when a woman collapsed in front of them.
“The 23 women working at the bar were standing in a corner during the raid when one of them collapsed. When police officers saw her, they rushed to her aid,” said Sankhe.
The cop added that waiters helped officers bring her outside the bar and fled, leaving her with the police. The officers then took her to Bhagwati Hospital, where she was declared dead on arrival.
“When the management began accusing the officers of the girl’s death, cops demanded CCTV recordings but the owner had deleted them. With the help of technicians, we retrieved the erased footage from the server. The recordings show the entire raid and also the part where the officers are taking the woman outside with the help of waiters,” said Sankhe.
He added that police have recorded statements of over 50 eyewitnesses -- 22 bargirls, 21 customers present at the time and the bar staff -- who said the woman simply collapsed.
‘Will go to top cop’
While the family of Shaikh, who was a divorcee with a 10-year-old-son, has not registered any complaint, bar owner Varuna Dinesh Agarwal said that police officers barged in and bullied his staff, even the women, shouting and shoving them around. It was during this time that Shaikh panicked and suffered an attack, he alleged. He also claimed that the police robbed the hard disc with the CCTV footage from his bar.
Earlier, the SS made news when a hawker apparently died during a raid led by the notorious Vasant Dhoble.
Agarwal has written to police authorities, alleging that Shaikh died due to manhandling by the SS officers. “We will submit a copy of the letter to the police commissioner, demanding action,” said Agarwal. For his part, Inspector Sankhe of Kasturba Marg police said, “The bar owner does not have a licence. We have registered a case of accidental death and are awaiting post-mortem reports from JJ Hospital,” Sankhe said.
Shaikh, a native of Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, stayed in Mira Road. Her cousin was taking care of her son. She had three siblings and had been working at the bar for the past four years.