A Powai-based hawker Anis Fatima Shaikh, was allegedly assaulted by police sub-inspector (PSI) Anup Dange of the Antop Hill police station on two different occasions for holding morchas. Shaikh (26), known to most as Salma, has complained to several authorities, filed a criminal writ petition and also sought compensation through the court.
Salma is the general secretary of the Azad Hawker Union and is executive committee member of National Association of Street Vendors of India. She has even participated in the World Social Forum at Nairobi in 2006, and has traveled all over the country to fight for hawkers’ rights. On December 17, 2007, over 1,000 hawkers under the Azad Hawkers’ Union undertook a morcha to LT Marg police station and Azad Maidan, to protest against the alleged torture of hawkers of Zaveri Bazaar. Dange, who was then posted with the LT Marg police station, allegedly beat up several female hawkers that day, including Salma, at the police station.
In November last year, Salma learnt that cops from the Antop Hill police station were assaulting and forcibly evicting hawkers, even though they were selling their wares in the hawking zone. “Surprisingly, our hawkers were sitting at the hawking zone in Antop Hill. The place is reserved for hawkers by Supreme Court order, but the police — especially Dange — was removing them, at the behest of a builder,” alleged Salma.
On November 3, hawkers took out a morcha outside the Antop Hill police station. Dange was deployed to watch over it. According to Salma, Dange flew into a rage when he saw her at the morcha. Taunting Salma, he said, “Mujhe pehchana kya? Main LT Marg wala Anup Dange. Pahle wali maar bhool gayi kya? Bahut netagiri kar rahi hai (‘Recognise me? I’m the Anup Dange from LT Marg. Did you forget the first thrashing you got? You’re playing politician nowadays.”) He then allegedly abused and thrashed Salma. On November 17, hawkers undertook another morcha in protest of Dange and his senior Shamsher Khan Pathan at Azad Maidan. In response, cops assured them that action would be taken against the guilty cop. Salma has complained to several authorities (copies of complaints available with MiD DAY), filed a criminal writ petition in Kurla court and has filed a compensation petition in the city civil court against Dange and the Antop Hill police.
The other side
Rubbishing the allegations, Dange said, “The allegations are baseless. The BMC takes action and we only provide protection. The hawkers had attacked the BMC officials. I don’t know any builder or even his watchman. I never tortured any hawkers. You can initiate an inquiry through any agency like CBI, CID or ACB.”