Colaba Causeway erupted on Monday, July 4, when an argument broke out between the owner of Royal Leather Goods, a store next to the famous Leopold Cafe, and a hawker.
M K Vakharia, Hannan and Yunus Vakharia. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Trouble began brewing on Monday morning when MK Vakharia of Royal Leather Goods objected to a hawker selling cigarettes outside his shop. “He was illegal and that is why I complained. People would buy his cigarettes stand outside my store, smoke, drink chai and throw things; it was a nuisance,” said Vakharia.
A CCTV grab of M K Vakharia (centre) in the midst of the melee
Vakharia and the hawker had an argument. Meanwhile Hannaan, Vakharia’s son, who was in the store, took pictures of the cigarette stall and sent it to BMC’s senior officer, Nutan Jadhav. Meanwhile, Vakharia went to the Colaba police station to complain and though the police gave him an ear, they dismissed it initially.
Vakharia returned to his store and soon, saw a BMC van with Jadhav’s people near his shop. The BMC along with the police moved and forcibly removed the hawker’s wares, packing them up and putting them into a van. Vakharia stated, “Anger was at an all time high once the hawker’s wares were packed up. I was the target because of the complaint, but, also because of the fact that I had facilitated the BMC work.”
Soon a crowd of at least 50 hawkers collected outside the shop, and though there was one cop, who was pushing them back, he soon left the scene. First, Vakharia’s son Yunus went to talk to the crowd but he was beaten. Then, they did not spare Vakharia as well. He was pushed and punched on the face, and his spectacles broke.
His other son Hannaan was trying to protect his father and brother, but he too was kicked by an irate hawker. Three of them then went back into the store. The police have registered a Non Cognizable Offence (NC) of the matter. Vakharia was treated for his injuries at St George Hospital and is back in his store now.
The CCTV cameras in the store have captured nearly one-hour footage of the incident. Vakharia is seen in it, being shoved and somebody punches the side of his face. Despite repeated attempts, Nutan Jadhav remained unavailable for comment.